The League of Women Voters of Sussex County considers the protection of our environment and natural resources to be a priority. As stated on the national League's website: "The preservation of the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the earth’s ecosystem is essential for maximum protection of public health and the environment. The interrelationships of air, water and land resources should be recognized in designing environmental safeguards. The federal government should have the major role in setting standards for environmental protection and pollution control."
The LWVSC seeks to increase public awareness of the influence of human activities on the ecosystem, the efforts to balance the resource demands of industry and the public, and what we can do to influence local government to protect public health and the environment. As a nonpartisan organization, the League of Women Voters encourages informed and active participation in government and seeks to influence public policy through education and advocacy.
As residents of Sussex County, we are witnessing the effects of rapid growth in residental development and argicultural industries on our natural resources. Clean drinking water has become a serious concern, with many wells polluted by chicken processing plants and waste disposal. As a result of those concerns, the Environment & Natural Resources Committee decided to hold a series of forums in 2018 to raise awareness of the current wee-water contamination and ongoing threats to public health and the environment in Sussex County. Details from those forums an be found below.
The LWVSC continues to explore ways to raise awareness of environmental concerns and how to protect our natural resources. Water contamination is an ongoing concern. We are currently exploring new ways to address the issue in partnership with environmental coalitions such as the Alliance for Clean Water.
Recently the Clean Water: Delaware's Clear Choicer released a online resource called, Citizen's Guide to Clean Water. It provides information about Delaware's watersheds, the need for additional clean water funding, information on the legislative process, how you can become involved, etc. Please click on the link for ways you can help protect your water.
LWVSC Forums on Clean Water
On March 13, 2018, a forum was held in Sussex County Council Chambers entitled: "Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern." The well attended forum focused on shortcomings of wastewater and agricultural sludge disposal that lead to continuing pollution of residential wells. A panel of experts discussed the scope of polluted sites, inadequate zoning practices, and the current lack of regulation enforcement which has led to groundwater contamination at sites such as Mountaire Farms in Millsboro.
Due to the heavy attendance of the initial forum and the concerns for the issue expressed by the public, the Environment & Natural Resources Committee of the LWVSC decided to hold a second forum as a continuation of the one held in March. It was called, "Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern, Part 2." The League’s aim in hosting this presentation was not only to raise awareness of current well-water contamination and ongoing threats to public health and the environment in Sussex County, but also to stress the need for the public to insist on long-term solutions. The speakers presentations were followed by a question and answer period where the public was welcome to submit questions regarding their concerns on the issues addressed.
On October 6th, the Committee held the LWVSC Water Warriors Expo, part 3 of its "Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern" forum. Organizations and groups concerned about the environment, particularly water quality, were given the opportunity to provide the public with information about their environmental initiatives. Several legislators and candidates attended.
Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern, Part 1
The speakers and their power point presentations follow:
- John Austin, EPA Expert Chemist and Certified Drinking Water Lab Inspector (ret.), discussed the toxicity and health impacts of nitrate, why it is regulated, and the wastewater spray and agricultural sludge disposal sites currently contaminating residential wells in Sussex County.
Nitrate in Sussex County Ground Water (Austin)
- Andrea Green, Attorney, and Tony Scarpa, Realtor, co-founders of “Keep Our Wells Clean," explained the negative environmental impact of the planned Artesian disposal of Allen Harim’s wastewater in Milton and address the recently discovered contamination coming from the operations of Clean Delaware LLC, a septic tank waste disposal company in Milton.
Artesian Northern Sussex Regional Wastewater Recharge Facility & Allen Harim Poultry Processing, Impact on Water (Green)
Clean Delaware, LLC Case Study of Nonpoint Source Pollution (Scarpa)
- Dr. Joseph Kim, Chair of Nanticoke Integrated Health Alliance, shared his medical concerns about the health impacts of water supplies contaminated with Nitrate and describe the various public health initiatives he supports.
- Why This Matters, The Health Effects of Contaminated Water (Kim)
Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern, Part 2
The speakers and their power point presentations follow:
- Lisa Borin Ogden, Deputy Secretary of DNREC, discussed the role of DNREC in protecting Delaware waters, their challengees, pollution reduction methods, and water quality improvement methods.
Protecting Delaware's Waters, "Everyone Has a Role"
- Keith Mensch, Program Administrator, Division of Public Health, Office of Drinking Water, explained what ODW does and how it regulates public water systems.
Office of Drinking Water
- Dr. Mohammad Akhter, former director of the American Public Health Association, discuessed nitrates in Sussex County ground water, local areas of well water contamination, the effects of that contamination, and the responsibility of elected and appointed officials.
Clean Drinking Water for All
Safe Drinking Water?? Everyone's Concern, Part 3
Water Warriors Expo
On October 6, 2018, the Environment and Natural Resources committee of the LWVSC held a Water Warriors Expo at the Milton Fire Company. An article on the event can be found here.