Dredging Rehoboth's Silver Lake? UPDATE: Fish Kill in Lake

Fish kill hits Rehoboth’s Silver Lake

By Ryan Mavity | Jul 04, 2012
Cape Gazette
Photo by: Ryan Mavity A fish kill occurred July 4 in Rehoboth's Silver Lake, the first major kill since 2008.

Rehoboth Beach — Hundreds, likely thousands of fish are dead in Rehoboth Beach’s Silver Lake in the first fish kill there since 2008.

Dead fish could be seen floating from the Bayard Avenue bridge to Rehoboth Elementary School. Most appeared to be small perch or bass.

Rehoboth City Manager Greg Ferrese said the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife was called and has responded. Representatives from the division were not available for comment.

The last fish kill at Silver Lake occurred April 26, 2008, when low dissolved- oxygen levels decimated the lake’s largemouth bass population.

Todd Fritchman of Envirotech reported the 2008 fish kill, and he speculated similar factors may be at work in this one. He has not yet viewed the scene, but Fritchman said low dissolved-oxygen levels, caused by the high heat this summer, could have contributed to the kill. He said the hotter the water, the less dissolved oxygen the lake will hold.

Fritchman said other factors could be sediment from runoff and bacteria blooms.

A cluster of dead fish in Rehoboth Beach's Silver Lake. (Photo by: Ryan Mavity)
A large stretch of Silver Lake looked like this in the afternoon of July 4: scores of dead fish, appearing to be mostly perch and bass. (Photo by: Ryan Mavity)
Larger fish were among the hundreds killed at Silver Lake in Rehoboth Beach.

Funding sought to dredge Rehoboth's Silver Lake

Water quality will be improved, Cooper says

By Ryan Mavity

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Cape Gazette June 30, 2012

The west end of Silver Lake could be dredged this year if city and state officials can secure $300,000 for the project.

Chuck Williams, project man­ager of the Department of Natur­al Resources and Environmental Control’s Shoreline and Water­way Management Section, said the state has at least $200,000 available for dredging in its 21st Century fund. Williams said $100,000 more is needed to meet the state’s cost estimate.

The west end, bordered by Sil­ver Lake Park and Rehoboth Ele­mentary School, has been plagued by stormwater runoff and shoreline erosion, which to­gether have reduced the depth of the lake.

Commissioner Stan Mills said, “The result is poor water quality and aquatic environment and al­so loss of recreational boating opportunities.' When the water level is re­duced by evaporation and too lit­tle rainfall, the lake bottom is ex­posed, creating odorous mud­flats thick with fast-growing veg­etation including invasive species such as phragmities, Mills said.

The city has attempted to rem­edy the situation with vegetative buffers on city land and two stormceptors, which capture sediments and oil before they go into the lake.

“But to address filling in of the lake, the most vital step is to dredge the finger of Silver Lake to a depth comparable to other areas of the lake,” Mills said.

Sallie Forman, president of Save Our lakes Alliance3, said, “Sediment would be removed starting at about Scarborough Ave., and going to the west end to a depth of three feet, totaling about 5,000 cubic yards.”

The banks off Silver Lake Park have been proposed as a staging area.

“If everything falls into place, the project could start as early as late fall 2012,” Forman said. She said there will be community outreach beforehand, especially for property owners along the west end.

Mayor Sam Cooper said he has encouraged the state to dredge the west end because it will help the overall health of the lake. He said homeowners at the west end complain the lake is too shallow, while homeowners on the east end complain there is too much water.

Cooper said if the lake were dredged, it would deepen the west end back to the level it has historically been, better balanc­ing the lake. He acknowledged the city may need to come up with some funding for the proj­ect, but how much is still up in the air.

Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Re­hoboth Beach, said while one can never count on the money being there until the budget is ap­proved, he is very optimistic the funds will be there for dredging Silver Lake.

Schwartzkopf said he is confi­dent the state will secure some funding, but he said the city needs to kick in some funds as well. The state budget needs to be approved before Saturday, June 30.

“I think it will happen,” Schwartzkopf said.

Planners ponder no-build zone

Meanwhile, the Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission is still working on its report to the city commissioners detailing possible new regulations for building around the lakes.

Chairman Preston Littleton said the report will aim for an all­encompassing approach, putting into layman’s terms how the av­erage citizen is responsible for stewardship of the lake.

The commission is mulling putting in its report a 10-foot no­mow or no-build zone, along

with bank stabilization measures in an effort to reduce stormwater runoff, pollutants and sediment buildup in the lakes.

The planners discussed giving private property owners two years to either establish a 10-foot no-mow zone or, establish bank stablization such as riprap or a bulkhead, Littleton said. Plan­ners would prefer lake property owners to develop natural buffers, rather than installing riprap or a bulkhead. However, Littleton said, the measures tak­en will depend on what is most appropriate for specific proper­ties.

He said most property owners around the lake already have a natural buffer, riprap or bulk­head.

Littleton said the commission has made no decisions, and is planning to meet with represen­tatives from DNREC to discuss its work so far. He said he hopes to have a rough draft of the re­port by the commission’s next meeting, Friday, July 13.