Spray Irrigation Project Still Plodding Along

OCEAN CITY — The long-awaited installation of a new spray irrigation system at Eagle’s Landing Golf Course in West Ocean City took a small step in moving forward last week, but it remains uncertain if the project will hit its window for completion this fall and winter.

At Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, Eagle’s Landing Superintendent Joe Perry updated members and staff on the status of the project that has plodded along now for a couple of years. When completed, the new spray irrigation site will take highly treated effluent from the neighboring Mystic Harbor and other properties in the surrounding area to be dispersed at the vast golf course off Route 611 in West Ocean City, replacing an aging system nearing the end of its useful life and allowing some areas with failing septic systems to be tied in.

Perry told the committee on Tuesday there has been some movement recently on the long-awaited project, which is largely being administered by Worcester County despite Ocean City’s ownership of Eagle’s Landing, but the project’s fate is largely in the hands of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). The system has been designed and is ready to go for construction, but it still needs to be put out to bid and the MDA is dragging its feet somewhat on approving the bid specifications.

“We are proceeding at a snail’s pace,” Perry told the committee on Tuesday. “It’s basically a county project and our responsibility is pretty limited at this point. We did hire the consultant and that work was done about six months ago and submitted to the county.”

Perry said Worcester County would ultimately handle the bid process, but its hands were tied somewhat at present because it is waiting on MDA to approve the specifications.

“The county has layers and layers of bureaucratic stuff to sift through and a lot of that is coming from MDA,” he said. “The thing that is keeping us from moving forward is the MDA approval of the bid specs.”

Perry said the county hired a consultant to assist with filling out several-page application to the MDA and the application package was sent out three weeks ago. About a week later, the MDA sent the application back to the county with about 30 comments, most of which were semantic in nature and involved simple word or language changes. The county made the appropriate changes and sent it back to MDA last week, but had not heard back from the state agency as of early this week.

There are time constraints and deadlines to meet for the project to finally get underway. Because of the seasonal nature of Eagle’s Landing, the spray irrigation system would have to be installed during down time in the fall and winter, but the clock is ticking on getting the project put out to bid for this coming year. Perry said the hope was to get the approval from the MDA and get the issue back on the County Commissioner’s meeting agenda for this coming Tuesday, but that remained up in the air.

“The bid date is our drop dead date,” he said. “That will determine whether this gets done next fall or winter.”

Perry said once the bid specs are approved, the dominoes could start falling quickly. The consultant already has a list of potential contractors in hand it the project will be advertised as required, but once the specifications are approved, the contractors will have them in their hands quickly.

Perry said despite the arduous process, the spray irrigation system when completed will really enhance Eagle’s Landing.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s going to be an amazing addition to the golf course. A lot of work is going into it, but it will be a great asset that we’re basically getting for free.”

Indeed, the town will benefit financially from the new system, according to Councilman Dennis Dare.

“The Mayor and Council allowed West Ocean City to take in Mystic Harbor for the purposes of transferring effluent,” he said. “At the end of the year, we send them a bill.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.