County starts station upgrade process

Sussex County Council voted on Tuesday to spend $82,227 to hire consultants and to pay for an outside company to design the mechanical rebuild of the 30-year-old Tingle Avenue wastewater pump station in Bethany Beach.

Steve Hudson, the director of maintenance for Sussex County’s engineering department, said he expects the construction, which will include replacing the pumps and installing an odor control system, to cost about $750,000. Hudson said construction will likely take place over the winter and said he hopes that the project will be completed by next Memorial Day.

“It’s a major job,” said Russell Archut, assistant county engineer. He said the county will hire an outside company to perform the rebuild because, “We can’t just take it offline. It has to be operational the whole time we’re working on it.”

Archut said that the County opted to install an odor control system because, “We’re trying to be better neighbors.”

Perhaps surprisingly, though, nearby residents haven’t seemed to have a problem with the odor from the station, which has never had a system to control the smells.

Linda Mendoza, the parish secretary for St. Ann’s Catholic Church — which sits on the other corner of Tingle Avenue, across from the station — said she has never had a problem with any odor.

“I haven’t and I work right in the office,” she said. “I really wasn’t even aware that’s what it was until we got a letter.”

Upon a tour of the nearby area Tuesday, a faint smell was only detectable just east of station.

Visitors renting houses nearby agreed with Mendoza, saying that there wasn’t a smell and Joann Schiller, who stayed in her beach house on Hudson Avenue just down the street throughout June, said she never noticed any odors. Hudson said that he wasn’t sure the actual cost of the odor control system but he has had several complaints about the station’s odor in the past.

“There are days that there are odors,” he said. “It kind of comes and goes. (But) the upgrade is not focusing on the odor control.” Hudson said that the upgrade will also include replacing all of the piping along with the pipes and installing a station bypass.

The 30-year-old Bethany station — one of about 300 county stations — pumps all wastewater generated in Bethany and South Bethany before sending it through the Ocean View station and into the South Coastal Wastewater Treatment Facility.