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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Stormwater management gets proactive treatment

(Dec. 11, 2014) Flooding in Berlin caused the community to develop a dedicated stormwater utility and seek more than $1 million in state and federal grants in order to protect public and private property.
In Ocean Pines, the community is taking a preemptive approach to drainage issues.
In 2013, then candidates Bill Cordwell and Jack Collins made stormwater improvements a focus of their campaigns for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors. After winning their respective seats, the pair went on to co-chair a community task force on the issue, enlisting the help of local engineers and drainage experts.
“I think we’re operating from a preventative point of view rather than reacting to a tragedy,” Collins said. “We want to avoid ignoring the problem until it raises its ugly head and gets us. This is proactive – this is not reactive.”
Roadside drainage ditches, designed to absorb stormwater and keep yards and streets clear, are the community’s primary tool in addressing drainage. Pipes underneath driveways in the community feed to the ditches.
“We have budgeted for a stormwater drainage team, which is basically tasked with maintaining and improving the ditches throughout the community,” Cordwell said. “The ditches silt in after a while, so some of them have to be have to be dug out.”
The community recently spent $68,000 on a machine that pressurizes the pipes in order to remove refuse.
“At one time we were dependent on the county to provide that machine to us, so we went ahead in last year’s budget and bought that equipment and we will use that in the future to keep those pipes running clean,” Collins said. “It can be used to clean out driveway pipes, it can be used to clean main thoroughfares, main piping and all that jazz.”
Ocean Pines also approved $550,000 in spending last year to improve drainage on the 11th and 12th holes on the golf course, a move designed to benefit more than 1,400 homes in the surrounding area. It was the latest in an ongoing series of similar improvements on the course.
“The golf drainage project has relieved some of the pressures on the homesteads and lots around the golf course itself, allowing for better drainage runoff and flow,” Collins said.
The community did not make any improvements on the course this year, although Cordwell expects construction to resume in 2015.
“There are still more to be done,” he said. “We didn’t do it last year because we wanted the course to have one year without construction on it. We’ve had construction on it for so long and we’ve had to inconvenience people by having them go over to a different hole. I believe we’re going to get back to that next year.”
Cordwell said there are still plenty of problem areas in Ocean Pines, including several homes near Beauchamp Road and St. Martin’s Lane.
“The big problem that we have is just getting water out of the community,” he said. “That’s really what we’re focused on. Once we have the heavy rain, there’s really nowhere for it to go. We have the pipes going under Beauchamp Road over the River Run, but that only has so much capacity.
“We’re limited because we have natural resources that we have to worry about,” Cordwell continued. “The county has gotten a little stricter about stormwater management and we have other agencies that we have to satisfy, so it’s not as simple as just running a pipe down to the river anymore. We’re around the water – regulations are pretty stiff.”
Collins said some of the drainage pipes might need replacing, and called for a new meeting of the task force.
“We have some pretty heady experience on that committee, including people with various backgrounds in engineering and infrastructure,” he said. The list includes new Worcester County Commissioners President Jim Bunting, as well as a former senior supervisor with Prince George’s County stormwater management.
“The committee meetings are held when [General Manager] Bob Thompson decides to call a committee meeting,” Collins said. “I think we’re probably due – it’s been several months since we had our last meeting. We could really use a basic update as to what we’ve done in the last several months. There are individuals that have been hired specifically for our drainage systems. What have they addressed, what have they completed?
“It’s strictly maintenance prevention and making sure that proper elevations are maintained to generate water flow in the right direction,” Collins continued. “Water does flow downhill, right? Those kinds of things are the things that you have to stay on top of on an ongoing basis, and that’s what this committee is all about.”
Cordwell expects the group to reconvene during the next few months.
“Now that all the county elections are over, because some of the people on the task force were involved in the county elections, we’ll be able to get back at it,” he said. “I think we have some talent on the task force, but it all comes down to dollars and cents.”