Sussex mobile home park on track to get 1st loan under clean water program


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced plans to connect the Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community to the Lewes Board of Public Works sewer system are proceeding.

It followed the issuance of a conditional letter of approval of the state-funded loan to provide financing for the connection.

The community owner’s lender had to sign off on the financing arrangement for the state-funded loan for the connection to proceed. However, the owner has secured a conditional approval, DNREC confirmed Monday. This followed months of negotiations.


Donovan Smith was chosen as a pilot project for Delaware’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities – with DNREC, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, and the Delaware State Housing Authority partnering under Gov.  John Carney’s request to develop a priority list for underserved communities in the state that have longtime water and wastewater issues.

The combination of DNREC enforcement of wastewater regulations and financial help for Donovan Smith aims to end water pollution at the site by moving the community from septic systems to the Lewes central sewer system.

The Clean Water Initiative will use the approach being piloted with Donovan Smith to institute water and wastewater improvements with similar communities.

“There are several manufactured home communities in our state — especially downstate — with longtime septic issues where putting the cost of a sewer connection on the residents would be a tremendous financial burden. Finding a way to mandate the sewer connection without burdening the residents or possibly bankrupting the park — and leaving the residents without anywhere to live — is the tightrope we must walk, and which the state financing supported by Gov. Carney is making possible,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said. “We are working to make a difference in the lives of these residents and in the environment, one step at a time.”

DNREC also announced a second Notice of Violation to Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park following an initial NOV issued in July. The second NOV was issued Sept. 13 after a compliance inspection, and two environmental complaint investigations found multiple additional violations associated with several small onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems within the community that were not previously addressed in the July violation order.

Although DNREC received updates from Donovan Smith concerning interim corrective actions taken, initiation of the required system pump-outs and submission of a corrective action plan did not occur within the timeframes established in the July violation order.

The mobile home park is subject to corrective actions in the second order until the sewer connection is established.

This second NOV cites Donovan Smith for delays and additional violations that have occurred since July. And although Donovan Smith has since initiated system pump-outs and submitted a preliminary corrective action plan, this second NOV requires additional interim corrective actions. The DNREC enforcement measure also calls for amendments to the corrective action plan to address additional violations, monthly communication with the community residents on the status of corrective actions, and more rigorous inspection and reporting to mitigate additional environmental and public health concerns until the sewer connection is achieved.