Partly-treated wastewater released after plant malfunction

December 24, 2019 GMT

LEWES, Del. (AP) — Partially-treated wastewater is being released from a treatment plant in Delaware because of an equipment malfunction that state officials say cannot be immediately fixed.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control learned of the equipment malfunction at the Lewes wastewater treatment plant on Dec. 18, according to a press release Monday.

Residents in the Lewes area are being asked to take water conservation measures until a resolution is announced, news outlets reported. Those measures include reducing shower time, avoiding multiple partial loads of laundry or dish washing and minimizing “unnecessary flushing of toilets,” according to the release.

DNREC says the plant has been bypassing stages of wastewater treatment since Thursday. Crews are screening the partially-treated wastewater effluent to remove visible solids, and hydrogen peroxide feed is being used to reduce bacteria, state officials said.

An emergency shellfish closure order has been issued by DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin for harvest areas downstream from the plant. The closure will continue for 21 days after the malfunction is fixed per U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, according to the release.

The wastewater treatment plant is operated by Tidewater Inc., the release said.