A mahogany tide, an algal bloom, often results from excess nutrients in a waterway. South Bethany's canals experience algal blooms that the Town has tried to address using algae harvesters to physically remove the algae. Coastal Point | Submitted

DE - South Bethany, DNREC agree to remove algae spoils

Town to contract labor, DNREC to provide truck and dispose

The Town of South Bethany (Delaware) has agreed with DNREC’s divisions for shoreline and water management and parks and recreation to share the load on algal bloom and algae spoils removal from canals in the town. The control and removal of algae is considered vital to canal navigation, as well as important for tourism as the town attempts to battle the forces of climate change that creates the hypoxia that leads to the blooms.

“We figured it all out right after the town council meeting on Friday evening,” said South Bethany Mayor Tim Saxton. “We have an e-mail from Parks & Rec that they will allow the spoils to be disposed of” at a disposal area on state park property at the Salt Pond, “with our contract labor team doing the removal and DNREC’s truck and driver dumping the loads.”

This new “experiment,” as the mayor termed it, will permit South Bethany to have Solitude Lake Management remove spoils using their own harvester equipment. This week, Council Member Tim Shaw, Town Manager Maureen Hartman and managers from Solitude were set to be looking for ingress and docking points for the amphibious harvester equipment and measuring some of the canal waterways.

The idea means the Town will not invest in its own harvester, as earlier proposed by the Canal Water Quality (CWQ) committee.

“Not at this time,” said Saxton. “We need to make sure everyone is satisfied with this new measure to back-up DNREC.”

The decision was pushed hard by the mayor and council members, because there is a significant deposit with Solitude that the Town would have forfeited on Friday, March 17, if they did not engage outside help on algae removal.

At the South Bethany Town Council meeting earlier on Friday, March 10, the pressure mounted on the council to take action and force a decision by DNREC’s parks and recreation division. Tim Shaw, the council member who is the CWQ liaison, noted that the “Solitude walk-through is this week.”

“We are still awaiting the Parks & Rec permission to offload the spoils,” said Shaw. “If we don’t have permission for dumping, we will have to cancel part one of our labor contract. DNREC did a bad job last year at removing algae due to delays and equipment malfunction, and will be even worse this year. They are over-burdened with the beaches.”

“I have terrible concerns about DNREC’s ability to show up. The equipment failures last year were a problem,” said Shaw. “Our canals are going to look like a green Jell-o [gelatin] mold. Our work here would really take a load off of DNREC,” he said, and yet the Town was delayed in efforts to get the agreement to dump spoils.

Saxton said, “We are dealing with two different divisions. We have full agreement from Shoreline & Water Management on outsourcing this work on our canals,” said the mayor, “that they will supply the truck.”

“We have verbal agreement from Parks & Recreation.”

Later that afternoon, the final spoils solution was sent by e-mail from DNREC, stating that, as long as the parks department drives the dump truck to the special Salt Pond location near the shell shucks dump area, South Bethany could provide the harvesting and deposit spoils into the vehicle for removal.

Derek Abbott agreed time was of the essence.

“The algae are already starting,” he said. “This is a hot-button issue for our town, and you have to cut the red tape in order to handle this algae bloom.”

South Bethany approves bonus for staff

The town council also agreed to a pool of $7,500 of funding for staff bonuses.

“The funds are in appreciation for the hard work our staff has done during the new construction of town hall,” said Saxton.

Maureen Hartman will make determinations as to who will receive the spot bonuses and the amount, and the mayor will sign the checks.

“We appreciate how they have kept the Town running smoothly,” said Saxton.

South Bethany also agreed to budget up to $80,000 for two new police vehicles for the Town as a capital purchase in 2023.

Police Chief Jason Lovins reported, “Police Officer Matthew Boyd has completed his basic training from the Dover Police Academy and is currently in the process of the South Bethany field training program. During the month of February, the South Bethany Police Department responded to 13 complaints and calls for service.”

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