OCEAN CITY – The second year of a storm drain cleaning project is expected to wrap up next week, according to resort officials.
Public Works Deputy Director Woody Vickers said crews will soon finish the second year of an expansive project to clean Ocean City’s drainage system.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and delays related to workloads and weather, he said work would likely conclude next Tuesday or Wednesday.
“If the weather holds, we will be finished by then,” he said.
In January of last year, the town’s public works department began the difficult task of cleaning out the resort’s storm drain system for the first time in several years. Over the course of two months, crews cleaned out more than 20,000 linear feet of piping, 117 catch basins and 27 manholes in three phases.
This year, officials said crews again divided the project into three phases.
The fourth phase focused on storm drains from 120th Street to the bay – including North Heron Drive, South Heron Drive, White Heron Court, Blue Heron Court, North Heron Gull Court and South Heron Gull Court. The fifth phase focused on storm drains from South 1st Street to 9th Street from Baltimore Avenue to St. Louis Avenue, 10th Street from Baltimore Avenue to Philadelphia Avenue and Philadelphia Avenue to St. Louis Avenue, 11th and 12th streets from Baltimore Avenue to Philadelphia Avenue, 12th Street from Baltimore Ave to the bay, 14th Street from Philadelphia Avenue to Jacqueline Avenue, and the slot drain in the Inlet Parking Lot. The sixth and final phase of this year’s project focused on storm drains at Convention Drive from Coastal Highway to the bay, 41st Street from Coastal Highway to the bay, and 42nd Street from Coastal Highway to the bay.
“What we’ve found in the last few months is far worse than what we found last year,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins told members of the Ocean City Green Team last week. “Last year was bad enough. It was even worse this time around.”
Vickers said data from this year’s cleaning project – including the volume of sediment and debris collected from the drainage system – would be compiled in the coming weeks. He noted, however, that the public works department has already identified what will be phases seven, eight and nine in the coming fiscal year.
The last time the town completed an extensive, citywide storm drain cleaning project was in September 1985, shortly after Hurricane Gloria passed through Ocean City. Since that time, the drainage system – which includes roughly 46 miles of pipe, 2,400 catch basins and 330 outfalls – has clogged with sediment and debris, contributing to the town’s chronic flooding problems.
“Due to a lack of funding and other workload, we really didn’t focus on it over the years,” Adkins said.
To that end, the town has committed $100,000 for each year of the project.
Vickers said efforts to clear pipes and catch basins have greatly improved drainage in town. He added it has also allowed public works crews to identify deteriorating infrastructure.
“It’s well worth the $100,000 we’ve been spending over the last few years …,” he said. “It’s doing so many things. It’s not only removing sediment and debris that takes away pollutants from the bay, but it also allows us to inventory structural issues.”
Adkins told Green Team members last week the public works department will explore a yearly maintenance program after the third year of the drain cleaning project is complete.
“At the end of that effort, and having spent over $300,000, we plan to pause and reassess what we’ve got left to do to see if we can create an annual maintenance program, potentially of a smaller dollar value,” he said.