Federal Grant To Fund Water Project

SNOW HILL – Homes in the St. Martins by the Bay community are expected to benefit from a water project approved last week by local officials.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week voted unanimously to move forward with plans to connect homes in the St. Martins community to the Ocean Pines water system. The project is being funded with a loan and grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“This project proposes to replace the St. Martins by the Bay community’s private supply well and distribution system by connecting the community to the Ocean Pines water system,” said Chris Clasing, the county’s deputy director of public works. “The connection would ultimately alleviate concerns with saltwater intrusion into the private well, provide fire flow protection, including new fire hydrants, and eliminate water shortage issues that have occurred since the system was originally installed in 1984.”

According to Clasing, an eight-inch water main along Beauchamp Road will be extended to serve the community. The connection will provide 54 homes with water service.  The change is expected to alleviate concerns about saltwater intrusion, eliminate water shortage issues and will also give the community new hydrants.

The $2.5 million project is being funded with a USDA grant of $1,024,000 and a USDA loan in the amount of $1,495,000.

“The estimated quarterly water bill at this time with the current USDA loan terms would be $392 per quarter,” Clasing said. “It should be noted that during the public hearing held for this project in May 2022 the estimated quarterly bill was $358. That has since increased due to interest rate increases and terms associated with the USDA loan.”

Parsonsburg resident Chris Shook, a former St. Martins resident, spoke in support of the project. She said her husband had been president of the community’s homeowners association and had fielded countless complaints about water quality in the neighborhood.

“The water was not clear, it was yellow,” she said. “It had odors to it. It was a horrible living condition. That’s one of the main reasons we moved… I’m here for those people that live there now, they definitely need this.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with the project.

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.