OC Committee Reviews Storm Drain Cleaning

OCEAN CITY – As work concludes on a storm drain cleaning project, members of a resort committee this week got a better understanding of how funds are used to remove sediments from the resort’s pipes and catch basins.

On Wednesday, representatives with the town’s public works department presented members of the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) with an update on its annual storm drain cleaning project. With 43 miles of stormwater piping and more than 2,300 catch basins, Public Works Deputy Director Woody Vickers said cleaning efforts have been divided into phases.

“You can understand this cleaning effort helps, but there’s a lot of infrastructure,” he said.

Each fall, the town’s public works department works with a contractor to begin the task of cleaning out the resort’s storm drain system. Over a course of months, crews clean out thousands of linear feet of piping and hundreds of catch basins in multiple phases.

“One of our many obligations is to clean and maintain the storm drain systems throughout Ocean City – the pipes and the catch basins – all of which discharge out into the coastal bays,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained. “We’ve been cleaning during the offseason months of October through April for the last few years, and the Mayor and City Council have found it within their means to annually fund us, up to $100,000 worth of work.”

In this week’s update, Vickers reported crews removed roughly 154 cubic yards of sediment from the town’s storm drain system this year. That material was then hauled to the Ocean City Municipal Airport, where it was dewatered and disposed of.

“Cubic yards may mean nothing to you, but that’s waste of about 231 tons,” he explained. “If you’ve ever seen the city’s dump trucks, it’s about 12 of those.”

Officials say the annual storm drain cleaning effort not only improves system capacity and flooding conditions, but reduces the amount of nutrients entering into the bay. Vickers said crews were able to remove 98 pounds of phosphorous and 451 pounds of nitrogen during its 2021 project.

“That’s crucial,” Vickers said. “In that material, you have those nutrients that are not going to the bays. That’s a big advantage of doing this as well.”

Officials say the next round of storm drain cleaning projects will start at 146th Street and continue south to 120th Street. One of the phases, Adkins said, will include the Montego Bay community.

“If the Mayor and City Council follow through with our request in the capital improvement plan to fund $4.5 million in roadway reconstruction, we will be rebuilding a large number of streets in that area over the next 24 months,” he added. “In layman’s terms, when we’re done the pipelines will be brand new and whistle clean.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.