County Okays Funds For EDU Study

SNOW HILL – A new study could result in changes to Worcester County’s water and wastewater policies.

The Worcester County Commissioners this week agreed to spend $40,200 on an EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) study that will determine if the calculations currently being used are accurate and how much wastewater capacity the county has available.

“We’re just making sure we’re dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s and not overcharging our customers,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

The commissioners agreed to spend $40,200 with engineering firm George, Miles & Buhr LLC (GMB) on an analysis of the county’s existing sewer and water flow rates to determine if adopting a consistent EDU rate across all districts would be beneficial. Currently, various water and sewer districts in Worcester County have different flow rates — EDUs equate to different gallons per day figures in each district.

Attorney Mark Cropper, who often represents developers seeking to purchase EDUs from the county, said the service areas (and their varying gallon-per-day rates) came into existence at different times amid changing environmental standards.

“The county should take a look at re-evaluating the differences between the various service areas and how the gallonage for each EDU has been determined,” he said. “It should be revisited because it may not accurately reflect the capacity being utilized by each usage.”

Cropper said that if in any particular service area one EDU equated to 300 gallons per day of usage, when in fact a business only used 200 gallons per day, resulting in the plant being out 100 gallons.

“You have forever deprived others in the service area of that 100 gallons,” he said. “That capacity can never be used because it’s been allocated.”

If the gallons-per-day figures are higher than what it actually being used, that means there’s space available in the county’s wastewater treatment plants.

“If our numbers are not correct it could free up space in our treatment plants,” Mitrecic said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino said it was a good idea for county officials to know exactly what it had available as far as capacity.

“I’ll be interested to see what happens,” he said. “There’s been talk of having to expand. Do we have volume available without expanding?”

The county expects to have GMB’s review of flow data and development of consistent water and sewer EDU flow rates to serve all districts in about four months while the review of existing treatment plant allocation and the impact of a consistent flow rate is expected to take an additional two months.

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.