program still hasn't begun
Residents of Green Acres are
still waiting to see what will happen when the county Department
of Special Services moves to eliminate illegal connections of
sump pumps to the sanitary sewer system. The so-called 'clearwater'
program, which was scheduled to get under way in early spring,
is still on hold. County spokesman C.R. McLeod told Delaforum
that it is now expected to begin in August.
Although he said it has not yet
been prepared, a letter will be sent to all 377 homes in the
community off Silverside Road explaining the program. County
inspectors will begin looking for violations about two weeks
after the letter goes out, he said.
As originally presented in March, the plan is for the inspectors to visit
each house to determine if there are any illegal connections. If
disconnection is required, the homeowner will be given “a
reasonable amount of time” for that to be done. Upon completion
of the work, there will be a re-inspection and, if the result is
satisfactory, the homeowner, after presenting receipts, will be
reimbursed for the actual cost incurred.
be capped at $500 for each of one or two sump pumps and $50 for
one downspout disconnected. Residents were assured at a
community meeting that the cost is not expected to exceed that
limit. McLeod said there has been no change in the plan.
It is uncertain how
many violations will be found. The reason the program is being
done on a pilot basis is to get an indication of how widespread
the practice is before the program is expanded to include all of
suburban Brandywine Hundred. Department officials previously
said they thought about 15% of the houses throughout the hundred
had such connections, but admitted that was just a guess.
connections have been illegal for many years, there has been no
enforcement effort. As a result, builders routinely made the
hook-ups. County government now want to not only enforce the law
but also eliminate existing connections, no matter how old or
who was responsible for them, as an alternative to a costly
expansion of capacity in the sewer system to comply with a
mandate from the state Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control and the federal Environmental Protection
Agency to eliminate discharges into the Delaware River. The fine
for not complying with the environmental orders would be far
more than the $5 million in capital money the disconnect
subsidies are expected to cost, officials have said.
Asked why it has
taken so long to get the pilot program started, McLeod replied,
really is no delay in our view. It has just taken longer to
prepare for the program and select a public relations firm to be
on board during the pilot program to gauge and advise on public
perception and cooperation."