On Wednesday, July 2, United States Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons joined USDA Rural Development Director, Bill Cowan, to announce federal funding that will improve wastewater systems in Kent County. The project, funded by the USDA Rural Development Program, will help protect the health and safety of families while also providing significant clean water benefits for the Murderkill River and Delaware Bay. The announcement was made at the Kent county Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant located on Milford Neck Road in Milford.
“This is the last piece of the puzzle,” said Hans Medlarz, Director of Kent County Public Works. “We began this in 2010, and we have been working with the state to do site specific research in conjunction with the University of Delaware. Through this research, we have learned that there are some nutrients that we do not need to spend money to treat, such as nitrogen as the marshes contribute a significant amount of nitrogen to the waterways. However, we also learned that phosphorus is a nutrient we must control. By performing this research, we can save the county money by eliminating tests that are unnecessary.”
Mr. Medlarz also explained that the final phase of the project would serve low income areas where homeowners are dealing with failing septic systems. The funding from the federal government will allow the county to serve these areas that previously could not be served. The purpose of the funding is to construct, enlarge, extend or otherwise improve water or waste disposal facilities, and the priority must be toward median household income areas of less than $23,050 annually.
“About 260 families are going to have cleaner, safer groundwater and be able to eliminate failing septic systems at a price they can afford because of this project,” said Senator Chris Coons. “The idea that you are doing your own research is impressive as it allows you to eliminate treatment costs that are unnecessary. I am happy to support and celebrate the work being done here.”
Senator Tom Carper said that Kent County was able to benefit due to the three Cs – communication, collaboration and compromise.
“This project is a prime example of these three Cs,” Senator Caper said. “There was an extensive amount of communication necessary to get this off the ground and significant collaboration between many different federal and state agencies. I can guarantee there was also a lot of compromise as well. The fact that it is also energy efficient is also beneficial as it is easier to maintain.”
Several members of Kent County Levy Court were also on hand for the announcement, including Brad Eaby of District 2, Eric Buckson of District 4, Jody Sweeney of District 5 and Terry Pepper of District 6.
“This facility has not always been a great neighbor,” said Mr. Pepper. “The odor emanating from here was very bad at times. Today, you can see the significant difference.”
After the announcement, Senator Carper joined Tom Gates, an employee of Public Works in performing a process reading at the plant.
“This project could not have been completed without what I call the “four Ps,” said Bill McGowan. “The people who brought this phase of the project to fruition, Kathy Beisner, Lisa Fitzgerald and Hans. Our partnership with the federal and state government agencies. The programs that allowed these 28 projects to be completed through Rural Development. The final P is for place. Delmarva is full of small towns and every one of them is a jewel. Every town needs the infrastructure to make it work, whether it is electric, quality water or waste management.”