Green Delaware Action Alert #93

Update on "NO FLUSH" sewer cleanup campaign:  Green Delaware agains seeks cooperation from City of Wilmington and State of Delaware

Wilmington invited to join with Green Delaware 
to mark its sewer overflows

         Calls and emails needed
         Protest arrest of environmentalist, health hazard to park visitors
         Challenge Wilmington's Mayor Baker to “walk his talk”
         Events: Wednesday and Friday

Port Penn, DE, April 24, 2001.  House Bill 195, to end raw sewage discharge in Delaware, was introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives on April 12th with about 30 co-sponsors from the House and Senate.  Prime sponsors were Rep. Dick Cathcart and Sen. Patti Blevins.  Then, the Delaware General Assembly recessed until May 1st.  The focus of attention shifted to the City of Wilmington–Delaware’s main sewage dumper–with the arrest of a Green Delaware representative for stenciling warning signs on an open sewage “ditch” (Combined Sewer Overflow #26) running through a state park.  Wilmington Director of Communications John Rago (Rago until recently was program director/talk show host at radio station WDEL and was 
helpful to Green Delaware) insists that “this mayor is different” and wants to clean up the sewage.  However, the City so far hasn’t provided documents or concrete information.  Allegedly the City is having “dialog” with state legislators but we don’t know what the city is saying, and we don’t trust it.  Wilmington, under the bad guidance of Sid Sharma of its Department of  Public Works, has aligned itself with industrial river-polluters.  The City has scheduled a “kickoff event” in Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington on Friday, April 27, 2001 1115 a.m. to publicize a STENCILING PROGRAM organized by a polluter front organization, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and aimed at directing blame for water pollution onto ordinary citizens.  So far, the City has shown no awareness of the irony of this, and no inclination to drop the criminal charges.  At a “Citizen Summit” in Wilmington on April 21st, Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker commented “Alan want’s attention.”  Participants in the Summit voted to support House Bill 195, and former City Council member Sam Guy said “Mayor Baker should have been with Green Delaware stenciling the sewer.”

What of the State of Delaware, operator of Brandywine Park, and issuer of permits allowing the raw sewage dumping?  Wilmington State Parks Superintendent Ron Crouch said “you applied it [the DANGER RAW SEWAGE stencils] and we took it off immediately.”  Asked if he knew the structure was a sewer overflow, Crouch declined to answer and hung up.  Responses 
from Governor Ruth Ann Minner, Natural Resources Secretary Nick DiPasquale, and other other state officials were not available.

Green Delaware has written to Mayor Baker as follows:

“Green Delaware has been saying to City representatives for years that we would like to move beyond our role of raising public awareness to working with the City and others to design solutions.  This remains our view. We had relatively little success with the previous administration, but still hope for a more cooperative relationship with yours....  We feel that each Combined Sewer Overflow needs to be marked, directly on it’s structure, with warning signs.  In our view the City made a serious error of judgement in arresting a Green Delaware member for stenciling CSO #26, which runs as an open channel through Brandywine Park.  (Perhaps removing the “DANGER RAW SEWAGE” markings was an even greater error of judgement, but I do not know whether this was done by the City or the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation.) [As noted above, we have since learned that the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation removed the warnings.]
We propose that the City of Wilmington join with Green Delaware, and perhaps the Wilmington River-City Committee, to immediately stencil or otherwise mark each of the 38 Combined Sewer Overflows.  Time is of the essence because warm weather has arrived and people throughout the City will be tending to go near, or into, our contaminated rivers.”  (For the rest of the story, see the home page of this website.)

This is a critical time for the “no flush” effort.  You can help, and it will make a difference!


Join Green Delaware volunteers to hand out leaflets in Wilmington on Wed.  April 25th at 11:45.  (Meet at the equestrian statue in front of the DuPont Building.)  This is a regular weekly event.

Come to the “kickoff event” on Friday at 11:15.  We will either be cooperating with the City of Wilmington or protesting the its hypocrisy, depending on the Mayor’s response.

Call and email Mayor Baker (302.571.4160,  Ask him to (1) cooperate with Green Delaware in stenciling Wilmington’s sewer overflows, (2) drop the criminal charges, and (3) support House Bill 195.

Call and email Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner (302.739.4101(Dover), 302.577.3210 (Wilmington), Ask her to (1) protect visitors from sewage in state parks, and (2) support House Bill 195.

Send a letter to the editor of the Delaware State News ( and the Wilmington News Journal ( making the same points.

Thanks for anything you can do.

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If you are associated with an environmental or civic or health organization, please ask it to support HB 195. If you are an officer of such an organization, please contact Green Delaware. See contact info below.

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Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
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This page was last updated on  April 28, 2001.