The Board of Directors of the Center for the Inland Bays approved a substitute resolution regarding the proposed Wandendale regional wastewater treatment facility near Lewes, choosing to wait on any action until the appeals process was complete.
A Secretary’s Order for a Coastal Zone Act permit was recently signed by DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara with conditions for the applicant, Tidewater Environmental, Inc. — the first applicant to seek a Coastal Zone Act for a privately owned sewage treatment plant.
The Citizens Advisory Committee of the Center for the Inland Bays, or CAC, had approved a resolution concerning the project and CAC Sec. Ron Wuslich brought it before the board at their Friday, Sept, 24, 2010 meeting. That resolution recommended to the board that they urge the state to deny Tidewater a construction permit for the Wandendale project “until such time as it can be conclusively determined that this project will not, in fact, impede clean-up progress in the State’s attainment of the Clean Water Act’s Ambient Water Quality Standards,” requested that the “EPA evaluate and determine whether the State can comply with the Clean Water Act given Sussex County’s land use authority in land use issues,” and “task the appropriate CIB staff to prepare and present testimony for public hearings whenever there is a land use application that may result in additional nutrient loadings to the Inland Bays watershed.”
Treasurer Joann Cabry offered a substitute resolution stating that the CIB would wait to take any action until after the appeals process. (Several community organizations including the Sierra Club, Citizen’s Action Coalition and Citizen’s Action Foundation appealed the secretary’s order in August, as did Tidewater Environmental Inc. That hearing was held Fri, Sept. 24, as well)
The board voted to accept the substitute resolution.
Board Chair Ron Eakle said that the CAC was requesting to do things the Executive Committee doesn’t think the CIB can do and said he felt it premature to adopt the CAC approved resolution, until the appeals outcome was determined.
Cabry said that since the construction permit has not yet been applied for (Tidewater representatives, who were also at the meeting, said per a positive appeals outcome, that could come in weeks); the CAC was in essence asking the CIB board to deny something that hadn’t even happened yet. She also said regarding the third request that CIB staff already had the right to prepare and present testimony for public hearings and questioned the second recommendation, saying it was an “issue of authority in asking the EPA to jump over DNREC, and the state etc.”
Wuslich answered that by reading from the secretary’s order, which adopted the report by presiding hearing officer Robert Hayes, recommending the CZA permit, with conditions, after a public hearing in May of this year. It stated that the department has “continued frustrations” with land use decisions.
“The report discusses the difference between the local land use regulation by Sussex County and the Department’s regulation under the CZA. The Department continues to be frustrated by local land use decisions that allow development in more rural, Level 4 areas despite significant environmental impacts, such as degradation of air and water quality, loss of habitat and additional demands for infrastructure.
“While I agree with everything you are saying,” said Cabry.” I see this as either a judicial or legislative action, it doesn’t fall into the CIB.”
CAC member Doug Parham stated that the center’s goals are “not to minimize damage, [to the inland bays], not to keep it the same, but to improve it. That’s where the CAC is coming from. If we are not improving them, we are not doing our jobs.”
Also, in the Secretary’s Order, it states that the department acknowledges that it, along with other state agencies, were once in opposition to the facility when it was under review by Sussex County.
“Despite objections by the State and public, Sussex County approved a conditional use for the Facility. Similarly, Sussex County has authorized residential development to occur, and the residential development will require some form of wastewater treatment and disposal system. The Facility is proposed to meet the residential sewer utility requirements of the anticipated 8,400 new residential unit and 1,600 existing residential units within the Applicant’s Public Service Commission approved and regulated utility service territory, using a combination of spray irrigation and rapid infiltration basin technology for treatment and disposal of the wastewater.”
The conditions in the order were to require Tidewater Environmental, Inc. to reduce the design capacity, requiring a plan to minimize the facility’s environmental footprint, requiring fulfillment of the recommendations of the department’s Natural Heritage report to protect the wildlife and natural resources from harm from construction and operation, requiring submission of an operating plan as part of the construction permit application that uses spray irrigation as the preferred discharge method to the greatest extent practicable, relocating the rapid infiltration basin to a more appropriate location, and submitting as part of the construction permit application a surface water assessment report to ensure that the facility will comply with the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the surrounding watersheds.
To view the Secretary’s Order and other documents pertaining to the public hearing, the Secretary’s order, and the subsequent appeals, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov and click on “Coastal Zone Act Program.”