Spray Irrigation Concept In Pines Sparks Concerns

OCEAN PINES – County plans to explore irrigating the Ocean Pines Golf Course with effluent from the community’s wastewater treatment plant have become a hot topic in the Pines.

Ocean Pines Association (OPA) officials discussed the proposal with county staff during a meeting of the Ocean Pines Water and Wastewater Advisory Board on Monday, according to a release from OPA. The discussion came as a result of a decision by the Worcester County Commissioners last month to allow staff to explore the possibility of irrigating the Pines course with effluent, similar to practices in place at other local golf courses. When asked about the issue this week, Commissioner Chip Bertino stressed that the idea was simply being explored.

“This is certainly a topic of interest in the Ocean Pines area,” Bertino said. “I’ve heard concerns raised about this issue but at this point we haven’t discussed it as a body to decide which direction we want to go in.”

In January, Worcester County Public Works Director John Tustin told the commissioners his department wanted to look into the possibility of spraying effluent at the Ocean Pines Golf Course. He said the county had had success spraying at Eagle’s Landing, River Run and Glen Riddle. Tustin said irrigating the course with effluent would have practical and environmental benefits, as it would reduce nutrient discharges into the Saint Martin’s River and reduce the use of groundwater for irrigation.

At Monday’s meeting, John Ross, the county’s deputy director of public works, told Ocean Pines officials that $25,000 for a preliminary study would be proposed in the 2020/2021 Ocean Pines Service Area budget. If approved, those funds would be available in July. After that, he said the county would look for grants and/or bond money to overhaul the irrigation system at the golf course.

“The existing system is more than 50 years old and cannot handle spraying treated effluent,” the release from OPA reads. “According to Ocean Pines records, the association has spent upwards of $850,000 for repairs and maintenance of the system, since 1992, for an average of about $30,000 per year.”

During Monday’s meeting, Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola said that while the association supported the initial study more information was needed. According to OPA, the association will host a town hall meeting in the future to “educate the public on the proposal.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.