Today, the Town of Middletown, Delaware, unveiled its recently expanded
"greener" wastewater program implemented to better manage wastewater generated by the town and a large surrounding area of southern New Castle County. The town's wastewater treatment facility now provides reclaimed wastewater for use in spray irrigation on public and agricultural lands in the area. Today's unveiling is a result of a collaborative partnership between Middletown, Artesian Water Company (contractor), the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and the University of Delaware (UD).
The expansion has already been a boon to two farm families in the area who were able to beat the drought conditions during several recent weeks by receiving reclaimed water from the Middletown Wastewater facility. As the dry ground hardened and the grass turned brown and crunchy in the Middletown area, the crops on the Clay and Jester farms remained green and healthy.
The farmers also benefited economically because the water is pumped to the fields at no cost. They also have significant savings in energy costs because they do not have to pump the water out of the ground.
Middletown Mayor Ken Branner said he is proud the town has completed this project, a win-win situation for the town and local farmers. He is hopeful other towns across the state will join in the same type of effort in the future.
"There are several other towns that could greatly benefit from this type of recycling," Branner said.
At the event, Governor Jack Markell signed a proclamation recognizing
Middletown's water policy, and said, "This is an outstanding green success story that shows what real cooperation between the public and private sectors, among state and local government and across agencies can achieve. This is a win-win program: Water, a life sustaining commodity, is conserved for our future. Middletown has more flexibility and choices in managing the treated effluent. Farmers are able to save energy. Thank you Middletown, Artesian, and our hard-working farmers for leading by example."
DNREC Sec. Collin O'Mara said, "The beneficial reuse of wastewater presents
tremendous environmental benefit and economic opportunity, particularly for our vital agricultural sector. Using reclaimed water spray irrigation on just one 100-acre farm saves enough energy to power more than one home and to provide water to 130 households for a year with average rainfall. During a dry year, those numbers almost triple. In addition, growers using reclaimed water can reduce their carbon footprint by 17,000 to 40,000 pounds of CO2 per year. Imagine how much those environmental benefits will multiply if we divert our reclaimed water to irrigate thousands of acres of Delaware's rich farmland across the state."
In closing remarks, Ed Kee, Secretary of Agriculture said, "In addition to the
environmental benefits, using recycled wastewater for crop production will be one more tool to enhance the sustainability and profitability of Delaware's agriculture. Profitable farms are preserved farms. In addition, the Middletown project represents the best of Delaware's tradition of public/private partnerships. The town of Middletown, Artesian Water, The Delaware Department of Agriculture, DNREC and the University of Delaware all worked hard to make this project work."