The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control issued an emergency closure of commercial and recreational shellfish harvest of oysters, clams, and mussels in the Rehoboth Bay.
The order was issued after a residential sewer line in the Long Neck area of Sussex County discharged thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater into a waterway of Rehoboth Bay.
The harvest closure will be in effect for 21 days unless further spills occur.
DNREC also advises individuals to limit water contact in the Rehoboth Bay, especially in the waters adjacent to where the spill occurred.
The spill occurred when a plumbing contractor cut a sewer line in Mariner’s Cove mobile home park.
The spill was reported to DNREC on Tuesday morning. The Delaware Natural Resources Police immediately dispatched an officer to the site. The spill was stopped.
The 21-day moratorium on shellfish harvest is a federal guideline. The shellfish industry, which has aquaculture leases in the area, has been working with the state following the spill.
Efforts to build shellfish populations have accelerated in recent years, due in part to the ability of the bivalves to filter water. Delaware’s Inland Bays have been negatively affected by excessive amounts of nitrogen.