Projects Picked For Possible Stimulus Money

SNOW HILL – Payment for the new Mystic Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant could come in part from President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus package, county elected officials hope, and perhaps for other county projects as well.

The Worcester County Commissioners presented the list of potential stimulus package projects at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting, in response to letters from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Department of Transportation asking for projects to possibly be funded under the federal stimulus package.

Worcester County signed off on a list of five ready-for-bid projects for possible stimulus funding. A total of $19 million would be needed to complete all those efforts.

Officials also threw in a list of four planned projects, which are not yet under design and are much further from beginning.

The highest priority, the replacement of the Mystic Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant, will cost $8.8 million. The work could be ready for construction by June and meets the requirement in the governor’s letter that it be ready for bid before September.

The existing plant at Mystic Harbor has significant structural problems and cannot always meet state effluent limits, making a new plant necessary. With no back-up treatment capacity, routine maintenance is difficult. Plant components are old, and do not function efficiently. At times, inadequately treated wastewater must be released.

The second project on the commissioners’ list, the Berlin Rubblefill Cap and Closure, should cost $2.4 million to build. Design work is underway and should be complete by May. The closure will prevent run-off from the rubble fill from contaminating groundwater.

Work on phase II of the Route 50 service road comes third on the list, at an estimated cost of $4 million. The county needs another $2 million at least to purchase right-of-way land.

The fourth project, an additional water tower in the Mystic Harbor area, should cost $1.4 million, and would provide more water storage. Extra water would also make maintenance easier, and accommodate a growing commercial area. The design work is almost finished, and bid requests will go out this spring.

The fifth and last stimulus-ready project, the Ocean Pines and Riddle Farm water interconenction, should cost about $400,000 and provide redundancy to both water systems. With the design in hand, the county is waiting for county and federal permits. Bidding should go out in the spring.

Under future projects, the county listed a third Ocean Pines water tank, the rehabilitation of the Oyster Harbor water plant, the interconnection of Assateague Point and the Landings water systems and the Showell School sewer pump station. The four future projects would cost around $4 million.

The Ocean Pines water tank has been in the works for years, but county staff has been unable to identify a viable site. The tank would increase Ocean Pines’ stored water up to state recommended levels, and adds water capacity for increasing commercial activity in the area. The new tank would cost $2 million.

Design work has not even begun, however. “It’s just on the books as a future project,” Tustin said.

Improvements to the Oyster Harbor water plant would involve redesigning the treatment process to provide drinkable water. The plant is now on stand-by. Work would cost $500,000.

The water interconnection between Assateague Point and the Landings would increase efficiency, and open the door to public water in Snug Harbor. The interconenction would also offer redundancy for the two systems, and add fire protection. The work would cost $100,000.

A wastewater pump station for Showell Elementary School would connect to the Ocean Pines wastewater system, eliminating a large septic system in favor of treatment by a state of the art plant. Other local septic systems, at two churchse, office buildings, and athletic fields, could follow.

“Of paramount concern to me is Showell School pumping station,” said Commissioner Linda Busick, referring to the future projects. “I’d like to see this number one.”    

“This should be pushed up,” said County Commission President Louise Gulyas. “That should be started as soon as possible.”

The design funding for the pumping station should be in the next budget, county Administrator Gerry Mason said.

The commissioners agreed that the Showell School pumping station would take priority among the future projects.

The commissioners should be prepared for potential federal funding, Commissioner Judy Boggs said, but without expecting that to move forward on the listed projects if the stimulus package does not reach Worcester County.