Town Seeks Additional Water Supply

SNOW HILL – Berlin’s bid to increase its water supply received a favorable recommendation last week when it was found consistent with the Worcester County Comprehensive Plan by the county planning commission.

Town plans call for the addition of 1,600 water EDUs over the next 20 years, an increase of 400,000 gallons of water per day. This would be accomplished through either a new well or by increasing the output of the three existing production wells.

The new supply would serve the county growth areas and some commercial sites along Route 50.

“Our job is to find it either consistent or inconsistent with the comprehensive plan,” Planning Commission Chair Carolyn Cummins said.

Cummins questioned why the town designated some areas for sewer before others and how fast the water would be provided.

The sewer designations, ranging from W-1 for immediate service to W-3 for service in six to 10 years, means that Berlin is either not doing anything for six years or exceeding its growth allocation, Cummins said.

The standard sewer and water designations, which are set by the county, might need to be examined when the water and sewer plan is redone, county Comprehensive Planning Director Sandy Coyman.

“Maybe we don’t want to tie them to specific years,” he said. “There are some S-1 areas that have been S-1 areas for 30 years and still don’t have service.”

The designations tend to show the sequence in which service is provided rather than a strict timetable, he said.

The commission had several questions on the available underground water supply.

“The question is should they be on a different aquifer instead of all drawing out of the same?” Cummins asked.

The state handles the aquifer question, governing which one a jurisdiction draws from through withdrawal permits, Coyman said.

“They haven’t even identified where they’re going to locate the well,” he said.

Test wells will be drilled to test water availability, said Bob Mitchell, head of environmental programs. “If it doesn’t work out they don’t get the water,” he said.

Water availability is not the issue, according to Coyman, who said there’s an abundance available.

“Anywhere in the Delmarva area you sink a well you’ll hit water,” Coyman said. “The amount of water under the ground here, it’s a huge amount of water.”

The County Commissioners will consider this amendment to the county water and sewer plan at the Dec. 18 meeting.