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Stormwater repairs add to Rehoboth's woes

Feb 17, 2016

Nor'easter damages outfalls; fix estimated at $1.2 million

By: Ryan Mavity | Original Source

[Photo by: Ron MacArthur | Rehoboth Beach officials will need to repair two stormwater outfall pipes on the north end of town which were damaged by the Jan. 22 storm.]

REHOBOTH BEACH — Rehoboth Beach officials could face a $1.2 million bill to repair stormwater pipes damaged by the Jan. 22-24 blizzard.

Mayor Sam Cooper said two pipes at Maryland Avenue and Grenoble Place were broken by wave action from the storm. Because the pipes are out in the ocean, city workers cannot get out and fix them, Cooper said.

Cooper said the plan would be to fix and then extend the Maryland Avenue and Grenoble Place pipes to be out of the way of future beach replenishments. He said the city estimates the work to cost $1.2 million.

In 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paid for and put extensions on pipes at Delaware Avenue, Rehoboth Avenue and Laurel Street after accidentally clogging them during the 2012 beach renourishment.This time, however, Cooper said the corps has indicated to him that they will not help with funding.

Stephen Rochette, spokesman for the army corps, said, "Maintaining outfall pipes is a local responsibility."

To help pay for the project, City Manager Sharon Lynn has allocated $675,000 in the 2016-17 budget and also moved $525,000 from surplus funds saved over the years from previous budgets.

City engineers are assessing damage from the storm, but the outfall pipe project cannot begin until the beach damage from the storm is repaired, Cooper said.

Construction in the ocean is expensive and risky; the work will be easier from dry land, Cooper said. That means the city will likely wait until after the beach is repaired before outfall work begins.

As for who does the work and when, Cooper said the city could hire a contractor or include the work as part of the corps’ contract for beach fill, which could cost more.

Rochette said the corps has periodic nourishment funds for Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, but the funds will not be enough to cover the losses sustained during the storm.

"We are going through our process when significant storms occur to assess and survey damages to the project. This process determines if the project will be eligible for emergency funding. Once the process is complete, repairs would be subject to the availability of funds," he said.

Cooper said once the budget is approved, the city is ready to move forward. He said the big if is whether the federal government declares the city eligible for disaster relief. That would determine how repairs to the beach and possibly the Boardwalk are funded.


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