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Lewes, Delaware
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September 26, 1997     Cape Gazette
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September 26, 1997
 

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12- CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 26 - October 2, i997 Cape park's Biden Environmental Center gets first director By Michael Short The new Biden Environmental Center has named its first ever di- rector. The military abandoned the former Naval Reserve Center at Cape Henlopen State Park recent- ly, turning it over to Delaware which hopes to make it a show- place as an environmental educa- tion center. By spring, plans are to have the facility open to students. Delaware took a giant step toward that goal when it named a new en- vironmental center director. Susan Campbell, the former ex- ecutive assistant to Gov. Tom Carper, said that her new job ful- fills a lifelong goal. "I could not be happier," said Campbell, who has also worked in the office of the mayor of Wilmington and of New Castle County executive. "It is wonderful," she said. "It is a great opportunity, a great bunch of people; we are going to make it work." Cape Henlopen State Park Su- perintendent Pat Cooper is enthu- siastic about the new facility, par- ticularly since it's located in the heart of what amounts to a mas- sive outdoor classroom. "There may come a time when we need a lottery [to allocate room] for peo- ple to use this," Cooper said. "This is a win-win. I think this is going to take off... There is no doubt in my mind this facility will sell itselL" The facility is a bit bare itself, although it is in good condition, thanks to an infusion of money by the federal government before the Navy abandoned the site. The first order of business is to equip the large facility, which includes a massive bunker built into a sand dune behind the naval reserve fa- cility, with beds for overnight ac- comodations. Once that is done, most of the rooms will become dormitory type accomodations for young people. Larger rooms can be used for conferences for state govern- ment or other groups. The Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen already have plans to use the facil- ity. But the primary purpose of the Biden Center, named for Sen. Joseph Biden, is for environmen- tal education. It will be the first year 'round residential environmental educa- Michael Short photo Susan Campbell is the new director of the Biden Environ- mental Center in Cape Henlopen State Park. tion facility within Delaware's down the doors," Cooper said. state park system. "People are already asking about "I think they will be knocking this." Delaware told pfiesteria found in Indian River not toxic By Michael Short Pfiesteria is usually not toxic, Lymphocystis is not known to added that Burkholder's findings day is a day of remarkable cooper- Delaware received information this week that no signs of toxin were found in the Delaware water samples collected last month that contained pfiesteria. David Small, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said the samples contained pfiesteria, but that there was no evidence that the pfiesteria was in a toxic stage. That is the latest information from JoAnn Burkholder's labora- tory at North Carolina State Uni- versity. The information is signifi- cant because it gives further evi- dence to the belief by officials in Delaware that fish lesions or sores found this summer were caused by something other than pfieste- ria. although its toxic form can be ex- tremely deadly to fish. The mi- croorganism can assume more than 20 different phases, some of which resemble plants or are dor- mant, and there are indications that it may also cause health ef- fects in human beings. Some people working on Mary- land's Pocomoke River this sum- mer either during a fish kill or in- vestigating that fish kill, for exam- ple, have reported suffering from memory loss. But Small said the news that Delaware's water samples, col- lected from Indian River, contain no toxin, gives credence to the be- lief that more common problems such as the virus lymphocystis may have caused the lesions. have any human health affects and is usually, but not always, non fa- tal to fish. "This was in the non- toxic stage acting more like a plant," Small said. Following those initial water samples, Delaware has been conducting trawl net samples to collect fish and check for the presence of le- sions, because that is considered a more reliable indicator of pfieste- fla. Those trawl samples have not found fish with lesions, although fishermen have reported finding some fish, including striped bass and croaker between Indian River and Cape Henlopen, with lesions. Water samples are considered too random to give a good true picture of whether pfiesteria is found in an area, Small said. He were not a surprise. There was also the major Pocomoke River fish kill, fish with pfiesteria-like symptoms found in King's Creek just off the Manokin River, and fish with le- sions found in the Nanticoke Riv- er. All three of those instances oc- curred in Maryland. The bad news prompted several area governors to meet on Friday, Sept. 19, to develop a plan to com- bat pfiesteria. Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania attend- ed the conference. The one-day session, which iia- cluded a Chesapeake Bay seafood lunch by Maryland's governor to reassure the public, resulted in agreement on several points. ''To- ation," said Governor Parris Glen- dening of Maryland. The governors agreed to the fol- lowing: To provide for immediate no- tification to the other signatory states of outbreaks of pfiesteria. To establish a mechanism for the effective exchange of informa- tion regarding pfiesteria. To work cooperatively in seeking an appropriate an coordi- nated federal response. To establish a regional techni- cal team to report back by the end of the year, and periodically there- after, on the most effective mea- sures that the signatory states can use to evaluate the risks and re- duce the occurrence of outbreaks of toxic pfiesteria. Tighter construction standards could become norm along coast By Michael Short Delaware is likely to require tougher construction standards in fits coastal zone in the future. A public meeting on construc- tion standards in coastal areas idrew a sparse crowd on Monday, .but some changes are likely to be ?:adopted to help protect future con- struction from the ravages of oastal storms. Tony Pratt of the Department of atural Resources and Environ- ental Contt:ol's (DNREC) !,,Shoreline and Waterway Manage- tment Section said it's a matter of aying a little more now or paying :a lot more in the future. He said ithat people are complacent about the dangers of coastal storms and argued that tough construction standards mean less property amage, safer homes and less cost to government. "The simple fact of the matter is that people are coming to the ocean to build without knowing what the forces are," he said. Slides shown Monday showed some homes escaping with. virtu- ally no damage when Hurricane Andrew ravaged Florida. Some, built to lesser standards, were nothing more than matchsticks when a hurricane reached them. The area impacted by Andrew contained approximately 6,000 manufactured homes. When the storm ended, there were six still intact. That illus- trates Pratt's point that some tougher standards, of- ten some- PRATT thing as sim- ple as having pilings driven more deeply into the earth or using fit- tings less prone to corrosion, can make a dramatic difference when a storm strikes. Monday's meeting in Dewey Beach was designed to present recommendations from consul- tants Dewberry and Davis, Earth Tech and Coastal Services. The goal of the meeting, according to DNREC, was "to assist homeown- ers in surviving fierce coastal storms, such as hurricanes and northeasters, with house and wal- let intact." The recommendations and find- ings are only recommendations. None are requirements and Pratt isn't even sure what recommenda- tions may'eventually become re- quirements. But one that is likely to become a requirement is the idea that pil- ings be driven more deeply for coastal homes. One other potential requirement is that minimum elevation levels for homes in the inland bays re- gion could be raised. Christopher Jones of Earth Tech suggested that future construction should be one and a half to three feet higher off the ground. The reason, he said, is that aeri- al photos of the infamous 1962 storm along Delaware showed that the bay and the ocean met. Water didn't just pour into the in- land bays through Indian River In- let or other waterways like previ- ous studies suggested. It poured over the beach, creating a washover that essentially had the bay and the ocean meeting. Jones calls it "direct communication" between the bay and the ocean. That wasn't considered in previ- ous studies. But Jones considered it and suggested higher building elevation. "The higher you go, the better off you are," Jones said. Hearing set on West Rehoboth Sewer Phase 3 Oct. 4 Sussex County will hold an in- formational meeting for residents of Phase Three of the West Re- hoboth Sewer District on Satur- day, Oct. 4, at 9 a.m. at Rehoboth Elementary School. The latest and likely last phase of the sewer project will affect a relatively small area, which in- cludes Carsyljan Acres, Sweetbri- ar, Hill's Edge, Mill Pond Acres, Nesbitt Station, Red Mill Farms, Pondview Estates, Heronwood, Overbrook Shores, Mallard Point, Best Acres and Edgewater Es- tates. Sussex County Engineer Michael Izzo said there are ap- proximately 1,400 EDU's in the area. That compares to 8,000 EDU's in Phase One and Two. An EDU is an equivalent dwelling unit and is considered the equiva- lent of one home. Izzo said this is not a public hearing, but is just an information- al meeting to make people aware of the status of what is expected to be the last construction phase of the sewer system. Phase one and two of the project are already on line. Construction is expected to begin in either March or June, depending on the area, and be completed within 15 months. The average sewer bill for the area is estimated at $669 per year. That is based on having property with a front footage of 88 feet, considered an average property size for the area. Izzo'said contractors have as- sured the county that people will have access to their property, even during construction. "The con- tractors are very good as far as working with people."