SHOWELL – Wastewater disposal dominated the discussion of the Assawoman Bay watershed plan Wednesday night in Showell.
County planning staff held a community meeting at Showell Elementary School to discuss the Assawoman Bay Watershed Restoration Action Strategy, a plan to be written over the next several months detailing how the county will meet water pollution limits.
“This plan hopefully will help to restore and protect water bodies in the Assawoman Bay watershed,” said planner Keota Silaphone. This watershed “has excessive algae growth, nitrogen, and phosphorous, among other issues.”
The meeting, while sparsely attended, provoked a lively discussion of pollution inputs.
Tony Indge, a resident of the Maryland side of Bay View Estates, reported that Grey’s Creek was seeing a lot of sediment pollution and little was being done to stop it.
“Last December there was an increase of dirt coming down Grey’s Creek that put literally tons of silt into Grey’s Creek,” Indge said.
The sediment is from a sand pit upstream, he said.
“The water was like milk. You can actually see a river of silt running down,” Indge said. “I’m going to be landlocked.”
Indge also questioned why the county was not doing more to connect the 30 Maryland Bay View Estate homes to public sewer, which would improve water quality by taking septic tanks offline.
Each septic system puts about 37 pounds of nitrogen into local waterways a year. Wastewater treatment plants at high levels of treatment add less than three pounds a year per household.
Sandy Coyman, director of Comprehensive Planning for Worcester County, explained that Bay View Estate residents on the Maryland side had been offered hook ups to the Delaware side’s public sewer, but had declined because of the high price tag, close to $38,000 per house.
Bay View Estate sewage should be discussed and included in the watershed plan, Coyman said.
“I appreciate that,” said Indge. “It’s a county problem, a watershed problem. It should be paid for by county funds.”
In response to a question about public sewer in Bishopville from Margaret Dennis, Coyman explained that no public sewer is planned for Bishopville currently.
Dennis also asked about progress on the Bishopville Pond restoration. The Army Corps of Engineers has a certain way of doing things, Coyman said, and that can take a long time to get started.
“We are doing everything we can to get that project off the ground. We want to see some dirt moved,” Coyman said.
County Commissioner Linda Busick, in attendance at the meeting, said that the project should start this fall.
Joann Burke of Hidden Harbor suggested that the county keep a database of septic tanks and whether they have been pumped out annually, as the county requires.
Burke suggested that the septic companies that pump out the tanks could submit their customer lists and the date the work was performed to the county. The county could then pump out the tanks that had not been done by the owners and send them the bill.
There are no plans for a septic inspection program, said Coyman, but he said it should be included in discussions of the watershed plan.
Indge asked if local marinas were required to provide pump-out stations. They are not required to, Coyman said. However, Bill Killinger said there are a handful of marinas with those facilities.
A meeting to discuss the draft of the Assawoman Bay watershed plan will be held Aug. 15 at an as yet undetermined place.