Water quality in DE state to improve with new wastewater system regulations

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DOVER, DE, Jan. 7, 2014 -- The state of Delaware's revised wastewater system regulations will be effective on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, and will keep pace with changes in technology for large and small systems, protect public health and reduce pollution in groundwater, streams, rivers, and bays, to help meet its goal of achieving clean water.

The changes correspond to regulations in effect for the past four years in Delaware's Inland Bays watershed. Currently almost all of Delaware's rivers and streams are impaired and considered unswimmable or unhealthy due to excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus entering local waterways.

The new regulations also protect homebuyers from acquiring malfunctioning septic systems. DNREC's Division of Water estimates that approximately 18 percent of the state's 70,000 septic systems may be malfunctioning. Failing septic systems are sources of groundwater contamination, making it important to replace older, malfunctioning systems to prevent potential health hazards and improve water quality.

The regulatory changes represent the culmination of more than five years of work by DNREC staff that included 13 workshops and three public hearings, answering questions and gathering input from homeowners, state legislators, realtors, businesses, the wastewater industry, and public utilities. After each workshop and hearing, the draft regulations were amended to reflect public comment.

The revised regulations include requirements for small residential septic systems of less than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day, as well as large community and commercial systems of more than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day. Several sections of the regulations include phase-in effective dates. Click here for a list of specific regulations going into effect.

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