Pines Sewer Service Plan Shelved

SNOW HILL – There will be no Greater Ocean Pines
Sewer Service Area (GOPSSA) until costs come down, county elected officials
decided this week.

Hook-ups in the potential
service area could cost as much as $37,000 per some residential equivalent

dwelling units (EDUs), combining infrastructure costs and buy-in fees.  Commercial sites along Route 589 would pay

the least, about $24,000 total per EDU.

The annual cost per EDU could be
as high as $1,500 a year, said Worcester County Public Works Director John
Tustin.

“That’s the highest of any of
our service areas,” Tustin
said. “We would not recommend moving forward at this time.”

The GOPSSA was proposed several
years ago when the County
Commissioners learned of
excess capacity in the Ocean Pines wastewater plant, a state-of-the-art
facility, which could replace failing septic systems in the Ocean Pines
vicinity.

The county approved the new
service area in fall 2004, despite opposition from the Worcester County
Planning Commission, which feared that the availability of public sewer in the
popular area could trigger runaway growth.

The proposed area, as identified
by the county, would need 449 EDUs at present, with the need jumping to 653
EDUs in time as the area becomes built out.

Constructing the infrastructure
to serve all four sub-areas would cost $8.7 million, according to the Master
Sewer Routing Plan for the Greater Ocean Pines Area, a recently delivered
analysis.

“Those costs are exorbitant and
just not possible, but we’ve done pretty well serving by contract,” said
Commissioner Judy Boggs, who represents south Ocean Pines.

Tustin
suggested serving the Pines
Plaza commercial site by
contract. The owners are willing to pay for the infrastructure and hook up
immediately, he said.

“The system has pretty much
failed and they’re pumping out on a daily basis,” Tustin said.

Pennington Commons is already
getting sewer service from the Ocean Pines plant by contract, and Bay Point
Plantation off Gum Point Rd.
also has a contract with the Ocean Pines Sewer Service Area.

Showell Elementary
School, which would have been included
in the GOPSSA, also needs to be connected to public sewer.

“We need to hook up the school,”
County Commissioner Virgil Shockley said. “That’s where we need to go. How we
get there, I don’t care.”

Commissioner Linda Busick said,
“I’m most concerned with the situation there. The drain fields are 30 years
old.”

Shockley said, “We know we’re
going to need the school [connected].”

That work could cost at least
$1.2 million.

Just doing the school property
could be feasible, Tustin
said.

A new pump station would be
constructed to handle the school’s sewage.

The school needs at least 36
EDUs of sewer service, but that does not include all of the expected growth in
the school, Bob Mitchell, county environmental programs director, said.

“Who’s paying this?”
Commissioner Louise Gulyas asked.

“We’re paying it,” Shockley
said. “That’s going to come out of our pocket.”

Tustin speculated that state grant funds
could be available.

“We are planning to take septic
tanks out of the ground,” he said.

According to Tustin, state flush tax money can possibly be
used for that purpose.

The commissioners voted
unanimously to serve Pines
Plaza by contract and
pursue a new pump station to handle sewage at Showell Elementary.

“There is a finite number of
EDUs at that plant so we have to be cognizant of that,” Boggs cautioned.

 

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