New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer recognized New Castle County Council for the Jan. 14, 13-0 passage of the Substitute No. 4 to Ordinance No. 19-078, which protects water quality, limits sprawl and encourages farmland preservation.

“Tonight our county took another step forward to protect our precious water resources,” said Meyer. “We thank County Council for their vote for smart development and to conserve open spaces for future generations.”

This ordinance marks the third legislative initiative to pass of Meyer’s Green Agenda that promotes water and air quality, healthy and eco-friendly lifestyles, protection of local habitats, smart growth and reduction of harmful emissions by promoting renewables and improving energy efficiency.

In summer 2019, New Castle County Council passed an ordinance establishing a landfill height limit of 140 feet, and a resolution supporting Property Assessed Clean Energy, which encourages investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

The Unified Development Code update that passed Jan. 14 prevents installation of individual on-site wastewater treatment, or “septic,” systems in major subdivisions, or those greater than five homes, in areas of the county zoned suburban. Septic systems are a major pollutant, contributing five to 10 times the amount of nitrogen into regional watersheds as compared to the public sewer system. The ordinance would require County Council to take action to maintain the environmental protections before the ordinance sunsets in August 2021.

The ordinance was supported by local environmental organizations as well.

“Septic systems have much greater potential to pollute natural waters compared to sewer,” said Delaware Nature Society Executive Director Anne Harper. “Limiting new homes on septic is a win for clean water. Thank you to all the water advocates who spoke up in support, as well as to County Council and the county executive for their work on this important issue.”

The ordinance is anticipated to have the greatest impact in southern New Castle County where septic systems have been a common use of waste water removal, thus creating a threat to groundwater quality, most notably nitrogen pollution.