OC Water Main System In For Major Overhaul

OCEAN CITY – With one unanimous decision, the Mayor and City Council approved a subaqueos water main improvement project in Ocean City, and saved the town almost $166,000 in the process.

By granting the bid for a subaqueous water main improvement project on 10 sites ranging throughout Ocean City to Aaron Enterprises for $378,040, the town saved a substantial amount of money when compared to last year’s quote of almost $544,000.

For residents, the approved project “should take about 160 calendar days and will commence in late October or early November”, according to Public Works Director Hal Adkins.

Though the Mayor and City Council almost always grant bids to the lowest bidder for a particular project, like this week’s decision to buy a Scissor Lift for the Convention Center awarded to the lowest bid by Alban Cat in Baltimore for $36,803, the sizeable savings in this particular project were apparently enough for Mayor Rick Meehan to personally praise Adkins’ work on the proposal at Tuesday’s afternoon work session at City Hall.

Adkins’ explained the project that York, Pa.-based Aaron Enterprises will perform as a tactic called Horizontal Directional Drilling, which will drill “downwards, yet somewhat horizontally” through a two-foot-by-six-foot hole in the city street to install a six-inch diameter plastic water piping and connect it into the already existing iron water piping.

This will potentially improve water flow provided by fire hydrants for residents whose properties lie on those 10 sites, which are mostly long dead end streets.

Adkins explained that the flow of water on those dead end streets is “extremely limited”, explaining, “Imagine a fire truck hooking into the nearest hydrant, and let’s say another fire truck comes and hooks into another hydrant on that same street. They are fighting for the same water supply. The new pipes’ connection to the next street causes a ‘loop’ and eliminates that problem.”

Adjoining the existing pipes from street to street to the new plastic piping will be a slurry or mixture of bentonite clay and water, and the new piping will be drilled underneath the lagoons or canals that separate each of the streets, creating the aforementioned “loop” water supply to residents.

According to a comprehensive water supply study done by the Town of Ocean City in 2005, adding these subaqueos water mains noticeably increased fire flow levels or gallons per minute.

For example, looping South Surf Rd. to 139th Street with the installation of subaqueous water mains would increase GPM’s from 925 to 1,330, and linking Channel Buoy and 112th street would increase fireflow from 480 to 2050 GPM’s.

Sites or streets included in the bid include connecting all the streets from Old Landing to Point Lookout streets including Old Wharf, Channel Buoy, Shifting Sands, and Pine Needle, 25th to 26th streets, amongst others.

In other local government decisions this week, a unanimous ruling by the Mayor and City Council approved funding for upgrading the software systems for Ocean City’s town alarm monitoring systems used by the Emergency Management Department.  Director Joe Theobald went before the council and pleaded for money to upgrade the current alarm monitoring system, which has been in place since 1994.  According to Theobald, the existing system “can’t support the software as it is an old DOS system.”

Though an entirely new system would cost in “upwards of $20,000”, the council approved Theobald’s asking price of $8,015, which will upgrade the system to efficient levels while still utilizing the parts of the system that work properly.

The Alarm Monitoring Systems watch over city facilities as well as certain emergency services in the town.