Programs and Initiatives

SOLA3 Gets Answer to "Who Owns Silver Lake?"

February 11, 2013. Since SOLA3’s founding in 2004, its work has been hampered by confusion over which political entity owns or is responsbible for Silver Lake and Lake Comegys.
 (Lake Gerar is wholly owned by Rehoboth Beach.)

This has resulted in SOLA3 having to work with multiple entities to bring about improvements. Much has been accomplished through its work with Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Department of Transportation (DELDOT), the City of Rehoboth and individual property owners. But the “no jurisdiction” argument has resulted in property owners claiming the lake bed for their private construction, defiling the shoreline, and possibly further degrading the lakes.

SOLA3 succeeded in providing protections for Lake Comegys by convincing DELDOT to convert a former 50’ right of way to a Conservation easement around the lake.

But to get meaningful improvements, long-term protections, and appropriate management for Silver Lake, SOLA3’s board decided that we needed a definitive answer to the question "who owns Silver Lake?”

In May of 2012 SOLA3 met with Attorney General Beau Biden’s staff and top-level DNREC staff to present documents prepared by its counsel, Eugene Lawson, that attest to the State of Delaware’s ownership of Silver Lake and Lake Comegys since Colonial times.

In September the State Solicitor to Mr. Lawson declared that the “State of Delaware has title to the [Silver] Lake and subaqueous land.” 

SOLA3 then followed up with DNREC, which responded in December that "the State of Delaware is the owner of Silver Lake and that DNREC is the responsible management agency."

This is a major victory for  SOLA3 and welcome news to the Rehoboth community. But DNREC is delaying enforcing its statutory authority over the lakes until it completes its oversight plan. Fortunately, at a well attended public meeting in October, DNREC committed to drafting a management plan and an associated regulatory oversight plan.

Since then, David Small, Deputy Secretary of DNREC, has sent a letter to "Property Owners" dated December 18m 2013. In it he broadly lays out the State's role in regulatory oversight of the lakes (including maintenance and construction of stuctures in the lakes); an agenda for developing a lakes management plan; the possibility of monitoring lakes water quality; prospects and current options for dredging or otherwise increasing water depth in the "finger" of Silver Lake; and issues related to properties that are claimed to extend into Silver Lake. LInk to the letter here: DNREC letter.

Lawson Lopez resized

Gene Lawson, Sallie Forman, and Toni Sharp meet with
Chief Deputy Atty. General Ian McConnell (third from left)
in December 2013



Lakes Cleanup


In late spring or early summer, SOLA3 sponsors an annual lakes' cleanup where volunteers amass on foot and in boats to haul away piles of debris. Such "treasurers" as bicycles, tires and creosote-soaked lumber have been removed from the lakes. This effort greatly improves the appearance of the lakes and removes non-biodegradable materials that can be harmful to wildlife. Billed as good, "clean" fun, everyone is treated to donuts and beverages.


Update on Silver Lake Sediment Removal

After rejecting several dredging options because they were too costly, DNREC is reviewing an alternate plan. In order to deepen the west end, it would redistribute sediment to create wetland benches along the shoreline and/or islands in the wider areas of the lake for habitat purposes. DNREC has engaged a consultant to investigate this option. (3/7/14)



Sediment at West End of Silver Lake

AT THE END OF FEBRUARY, DNREC indicated that every dredging option considered so far has proven too costly.  Currently they are looking into ways to redistribute the sediment to create wetland benches along the shoreline or islands in the wider areas of the lake for habitat purposes. They have engaged a consultant to investigate this possibility. 3/7/2014   



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