Green Delaware letter to Mayor Sills on CSO Clean Up 

Green Delaware
Box 69
Port Penn DE 19731 USA
fax (302)836-3005

Steering committee:
Ross Abson
Frank Akutowicz
Bernard August (Treasurer)
Frieda Berryhill
Mary Cannon (Webmaster)
Thomas Colgan (Secretary)
Ted Keller
Jake Kreshtool
Faith Queman
Anna White
Alan Muller (Chair & Executive Director)

Hon. James H. Sills, Jr.
Mayor of Wilmington
502 E. Sixth Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

August 16, 2000

RE: Exposure of Wilmington's Children to Raw Sewage Dumped by City

Dear Mayor Sills:

As you know, getting rid of Delaware's Combined Sewer Overflows has been a priority of ours for years.  With the incineration problem somewhat laid to rest, we have recently been able to focus our resources on the CSOs.  I hope its clear to all that we will not rest until every CSO has been eliminated.

On the other hand, we have always agreed that the cost of this should not fall entirely on the City.  We have said many times that the City, County, State, and Federal governments should work together with non-governmental organizations such as Green Delaware to solve this problem, and a substantial Federal contribution should be sought.

Our problem is that the City (both Council and your administration) has so far not been willing to work with us in good faith.  Consider your absurd Long Term Control Plan, filed with DNREC, which proposes to partially clean  up 11 CSOs in 19 years, and leave the rest forever.  This document has cost the City much of it's remaining credibility.  I was glad to hear you say
yesterday at this plan is "inadequate."  Perhaps it would be a good idea for the City to withdraw it now.   Consider the proposal to spend 6+ million dollars to put a storage tank under Canby Park.  When this money had been spent, and the Park disrupted, Wilmington would STILL have the same 38 CSOs.  Consider that the City has diverted large sums from its Water and Sewer Fund, while claiming poverty, and has sought large Federal appropriations for a questionable "trolley" project.  Its hard to defend expenditures for frills like trolleys and ice skating rings while the basic infrastructure of the City is so neglected as to threaten the health of our children. 

We are only interested in supporting expenditures that are part of a rational plan to eliminate the CSOs.  This will not be simple or inexpensive, but is surely within the technical and financial resources available to us.

You are probably aware that the Public Works Department has retained one consulting firm after another to work on the CSO problem, but has yet to develop an acceptable plan.  In our view this is because the focus has been  on "compliance," or "what is the least we can get away with?," rather than on solving the problem.  The Delaware Division of Water Resources and EPA Region III have, shamefully, encouraged the City to think in these terms.

Green Delaware is willing to try to assist the City in developing sensible solutions, and in finding the needed funding.  We will oppose funding for activities that seem ill-conceived, or that are not aimed at the complete elimination of the CSOs.

We think a good beginning would be for the City to make a commitment to eliminate the CSOs by Jan 1, 2008, as called for in House Bill 671.  Once this is agreed upon as a common goal, it will be much easier for the various interested parties to work together to get this underway.

Again, we are willing to work with the City of Wilmington.  Sometimes people ask me why the City tries to ignore us rather than trying to take advantage of the expertise available to our  organization.

Yours very truly,

Alan J.  Muller

        Council President Baker
        Senator Biden
        Governor Carper
        Congressman Castle
        Members of the General Assembly
        Susan Regis Collins, Wilmington River-City Committee
        Martha Denison
        Members of City Council
        Senator Roth


Let us know what you think. 

Email us at 


or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX 

Green Delaware is funded through membership dues, donations, and grants.
All work is done by volunteers and members including this website. 

This page was last updated on August 29, 2000.