Water System Connection Backed

SNOW HILL – Plans to connect the Ocean Pines and Glen Riddle water systems were endorsed by the County Commissioners this week.

The Ocean Pines Service Area Advisory Board backed the plan in a mid-July memorandum. The 12,000-resident, year-round community needed more water, but another well would have cost too much, said Advisory Board Chair Dart Way. A new well in Ocean Pines, on the south side of the community, would have cost $2 million and required tapping into a deeper aquifer of iron-laced water.

“There was a problem. We didn’t really have the land for it. We looked at sharing in other directions but there was no capacity,” Way said.

A connection with Glen Riddle, which has been under discussion for about a year, is the lowest cost option, he said.

“It’s the rate payers of Ocean Pines who would pay for it,” Way said.

The interconnection will save the ratepayers money compared to the other options.

“It’s the cheapest option and we will need more water when we build out,” said Way.

The service area will also sell capacity to surrounding communities. Already, the service area has agreed to provide water and wastewater service, at a higher rate, to Pennington Commons and Bay Point Plantation.

“That’s all money in our pockets that the ratepayers of Ocean Pines do not have to pay,” Way said.

The connecting pipe will run through Bay Point Plantation and under Turville Creek.

Staff also encouraged the County Commissioners to give the nod to the interconnection.

“We believe it can be done,” said Public Works Director John Tustin.

Another option proposed in the past, to lay the pipe down Route 589 and then along Route 50, was rejected for high costs.

Commissioner Louise Gulyas worried the pipe would encourage development by making public water available.

The commissioners have already voted to add new language to the Worcester County Water and Sewer Plan to create a “no service” designation to forestall requests for hook-ups.

Gulyas said she had thought the idea was to run both water and septic lines down Route 589 to take septic systems off line.

The Greater Ocean Pines Sewer Service area, if and when it is created, will address septic systems, Tustin said.

“It just makes me very nervous when you run pipes under Turville Creek. I can just see all that land back there exploding,” Gulyas said. “Water can turn into another pipe that says ‘sewage’.”