June and July 2023 Board Meetings
We want to thank everyone for your patience as we address emergency repairs and plan for
longterm upgrades to our water system. While the main break has been repaired, we continue
to work to address the ongoing issues with our water, in daily communication with Sharpe.
Special thanks to Board members who have devoted lots of hours during this past July 4th
holiday to problem solve and address the latest water system failure. In the past month we have
had emergencies related to one of our septic fields as well as a failure of the main pipe to the
well. During the septic emergency, Board members took turns to manually pump the system
while we waited for repairs. I am so very grateful for their dedication to our community!
We’ve held emergency Board meetings on July 4th and 8th. The meeting on July 8th was well
attended by residents who learned first hand of the complexities of the decisions that we as a
Board are facing. Minutes from each of these meetings will be posted on the website, and this
update will summarize key points covered in all meetings that occurred in June and July
We have had two proposals from Sharpe Water with estimates to repair or replace the current
well which is in imminent danger of failure. We will also seek bids from another water company
too. Replacement has implications for our plans to pursue county water. In the coming weeks
we will be meeting with the county official to get answers that will inform our decision on how
best to proceed with the two options.
The pump house drain that flows into the bay was scheduled to be jetted by Atlantic Plumbing
on July 6, but they were unable to do so citing phragmite overgrowth at the end of the pipe.
Board members were skeptical, and so Rotorooter is scheduled to come out July 12, we will ask
about installation of a wider drain.
Resident engineer and Board member Bill Custead leads this work. He has also proposed a
third option that will be considered. We discussed the timeline, urgency, and ways to encourage
the county to speed up the process which at this point looks like at least two years away. Our
current system will not last until then. We are also exploring additional grants that could help us
defray the costs. As you can imagine, this is a complex decision that we face and we are
determined to explore all options, weigh pros and cons, and consider financial impact when we
make the best decision for all.
Emergency repairs were made in June to septic system B. A huge thanks to board and
community members who manually pumped the system over a series of days while waiting for
the repair. We avoided a devastating septic flood into homes!
Recent removal of phragmites from the waterfront near the dock has led to concerns about legal
vs illegal actions. A call to the Worcester County Environmental agency clarified that only
Phragmite can be removed from the wetlands, no other plants of any kind may be touched.
Chopping Phragmite down during this season will only result in quick regrowth, and so Fall is
the best time for cutting. According to Dave Bradford, the Deputy Director of Environmental
Programs, hiring a company with knowledge of how to properly remove and manage growth
over time is recommended. The Architectural Review Committee will revisit this in light of the
impact on well drainage.
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
The townhouses are still in need of painting and repair. Letters to individual owners will be
resent with deadlines.
Dock Update: New repairs are holding well. Marina is filled, but a pile driver is still needed.
Boatyard Update: Boatyard will be more functional by cutting down trees for more room for
storage, and removing abandoned boats/trailers. Next year boat yard payments will be included
with the dues.
Is underway and scheduled to be completed by the October deadline.
Worcester County Government Office 7/10/23
1 W. Market Street,
Snow Hill, MD 21863
Attn: Robert Mitchel, Director Department of Environmental Programs
Reference: St. Martins by the Bay Public Water
Dear Mr. Mitchell:
We have a great sense of urgency to get answers from the County in terms of getting public water to our community. It has been seven years since we first started the discussion of getting public water. Along with the ongoing long term well condition being precarious, we have suffered several disruptions in water service just in the last two weeks. For several days our water has been undrinkable, and so odoriferous and yellow we cannot even do laundry. The water situation has become intolerable.
We believe three options exist: All must be considered based on affordability given this Community has 58 lots with only 54 EDUS that must be able to afford the long term expenses the USDA grant does not cover, in addition to water usage fees.
1)New water mains and water services: It appears the County has decided to go with option 4 based on the Preliminary Engineers Report (PER) complied by Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc. We received a copy of the PER from your office in late 2021. This option 4 was estimated to cost approximately $1,600,000.00 which included engineering fees, permits, construction and contingencies. Based on our recent USDA grant of $1,024,000.00 representing 41% of the total costs, this would translate into a total of almost $2,500,00.00. The difference of almost $1,500,000 may not be affordable for such a small Community. Keep in mind the Community has heard estimated numbers starting at $500,000.00, to $700,000.00 to $1,600,000 in 2021 to possibly well over $2,000,000.
2)Master Meter: Not contained within the PER, but I discussed with you when we (also, Bill Killinger) met in your office in April of 2022. Again, option 1 above is the most preferable long-term solution, but if it is deemed unaffordable and we do not get enough Community members to gain a needed majority affirmative vote we need other options. As you recall this option would bring water piping from Ocean Pines and terminate somewhere within the County easement inside of our community. It would terminate with a “Master Meter” and our existing PVC piping would be connected to this meter. The HOA would devise a formula to charge homeowners based on a pro-rata basis of house square footage, or some other equitable means.
Worcester County Government Office 7/10/23
St Martins by the Bay
The County in turn would collect water fees from the HOA in lieu of individual lot owners. Again, not our most desired option for reasons stated within option 3 below, but it must be considered if option 1 above is too expensive. This we believe to more optimal and a better long-term solution than a new Community well.
3)New Community Well: While not our ideal long-term solution, and only if all other options are not affordable, construct a new well and pump house in a different location. This will provide a reliable source of water for the next several decades, but it would leave in place our existing PVC schedule 40 piping which is almost 40 years old. PVC piping, like any piping, has a limited lifespan. Schedule 40 pipe has been shown to have an average lifespan of 40-60 years, so of course new piping would have to be taken into long term consideration. We believe with permitting, design, construction, new piping to tie-into a new well house, and abandonment of the old well to be in the range of $200,000.00 to $300,000.00. If option one above is not affordable, we would seek to use the USDA grant monies to exercise this option if all other options are not affordable.
Affordability is the major driving factor, and the sooner we get a better understanding of costs, the faster we will be able to move forward. I have attached the questions I sent to you in April of 2022, and again in April 0f 2023 with your answers to both so as not to be redundant. We are asking to meet with you in the next couple of weeks, so we have a better understanding of where the process stands. The community is understandably upset about the on-going water failures, and we (County and HOA) owe them at least our best understanding of where we are in the process, and all potential costs and options moving forward.
St Martins by the Bay
CC: Mary Beth Cardoza, State Senator.
Att. (2) County Questions/Answers 5/23 2 pages
(2) County Questions/Answers 5/22 4 pages
Emergency HOA Meeting: Options for Water System
Saturday July 8th, 2023
Board members present: Constantino, Custead, Davis, Miller, Partridge, Smith, Stopford,
Residents in Attendance: Barb Reese, Dave Lyons, Bill Killinger, Joan Montgomery, Dave
Czorapinski, Ruth Waters, Pat Constantino, Patty Dukes, Matt Taylor
Call to order: 9:30 am Lynne Partridge, Chair
Announcement: The purpose of this meeting is to focus on the current water system and
OPTIONS we need to consider. Other items for discussion will be reserved for the next
scheduled Board meeting in August.
I. Current Well
A. Status - Water is clearing up, no need to drain the tank, waiting on tests from
Sharpe to lift boil water ban, Sharpe will officially test today to lift ban.
B. Multiple points of pressure, could fail at any moment, reports that compressor is
not functioning properly
C. Drain - Atlantic Plumbing could not jett line because it was clogged by phragmite
growth, need to clear area. Will call Roto-Rooter.
II. Discussion: Options to Repair/Replace Current Water System (see Bill’s
A. Repair existing 150 foot well and pump house. Current well will be 40 years old in
2024. Pump house needs extensive repairs; deplorable condition may contribute
to failing of equipment. Minimal upgrades (install bladder tanks, upgrade control
panel, replace water softeners and brine tanks, new drain line) for a cost of
around $60,000 may get us through the projected two years before acquiring
County water. Pros and cons were discussed along with a possible funding by
EPA WINN grant
B. Replace the old well with a new well in a new location with ultimate upgrades
(second well, new house, generator backup, new control panel with alarms, new
tanks, new air compressor and dehumidifier) for a cost of around $150,000
Pros/cons and possible funding were discussed.
C. Keith Miller will get a second bid on these prices from another Delmarva Water
Company and pursue the possibility of banking loans for these repairs.
III. County Water
A. History: The HOA requested the County begin the process of exploring the
option of County water in 2016 with a majority (65%) of homeowners approval to
move forward on the project. This was not a commitment to County water but
for gathering information about cost/ fees/accessibility etc. The PER (Preliminary
Engineering Report) was completed in 2021 with four options. In April 2022 the
County was offering one option–a line from Beauchamp Road down St Martin’s
Parkway. In April 2023 the HOA received a grant for $1 million with the
guestimated cost of County water being around $2.5 million. Bill Custead sent
Bob Mitchell (who we have been working with since 2016) several questions. As
of July 2023 those questions have not been answered. Bill Custead estimates
that it will be approximately 2 years after the low bidder is selected before we
would connect to County water.
B. Options according to Bill Custead:
1. Explore loan options
2. What will be the fees/household for both the County system and the
ultimate upgrade of our own system?
3. Can we do a Master Meter and use the County system as an option?
4. Can we redo our private well with grant money?
5. Can we get an EPA WINN grant?
C. Plan to have County answer these questions in the next few weeks. We will then
decide which avenue to pursue and present this information to the homeowners.
D. Joan Montgomery questioned if legal input was needed. Ruth Waters suggested
(based on talking with Mary Beth Carrozza) that we pursue political resources
mainly Madison Bunting our 6th District Representative.
IV. Phragmite at Town house A.
A. Lynne spoke with Dave Bradford from Worcester County who recommended
hiring a company to manage phragmite. Owners may remove phragmite only but
mowing down but this will only result in rapid regrowth now, should be done in the
Fall. Similar to discussions held during Architectural meetings. Now has
implications for Well drainage.
Meeting Adjourned: 10:49
Letter to St. Martins HOA
Ray and Jody passed on your contact info and I understand you are interested in hearing what might be needed to upgrade the water plant at St. Martins. I had sent something to Bill Killinger a month or so ago, because I understand the community is trying to decide if you should bear the cost of connecting to the Ocean Pines system or upgrade your own water plant. I will give you a couple of ballpark ideas, but I will say that something needs to be done because we can’t keep trying to limp this system along.
● Eliminate the buried hydropneumatic tank. Leave in the ground but cut off and seal the end inside the plant.
● Install (4) WR-260 bladder tanks to replace the hydro tank, tank level sensor, and air compressor.
● Upgrade the control panel with a simple HOA (Hand-Off-Auto) switch and pressure gauge.
● Replace all three water softeners and brine tanks with a new Culligan CTM-300-PF triplex water softener system.
● Relocate the chemical feed pumps to near the control panel and add secondary containment basins.
● Dig up and install a new 4” Sch. 40 PVC drain line to the creek.
● Replace the testing table and test kits.
● Replace the dehumidifier with an industrial grade dehumidifier.
● Make all lights operational.
● Temporary trailer water treatment set-up during demo.
● BALLPARK = $60,000
● Totally demo the existing plant once a new plant is built.
● Build a minimum 20’ x 20’ building to house all equipment. Location up by the road where the little stand of trees is.
● Add a second well capable of at least 50 gpm at 50 psi.
● Install a back-up generator capable of operating the well pump(s) and all plant equipment.
● Install a new control panel with HOA switch and alternator controls to cycle both wells regularly.
● Install (8) WR-260 bladder tanks to replace the hydro tank, tank level sensor, and air compressor.
● Replace all three water softeners and brine tanks with a new Culligan CTM-300-PF triplex water softener system.
● Install a digital chlorine level monitor which will indicate any iron bleed-through.
● Install an alarm system that calls out if anything goes wrong. I have attached the one we use at Swann Keys who went through a similar upgrade three years ago, although yours won’t need as many sensors/alarms.
● All underground piping to connect both wells and the drain line down to the creek.
● Permitting and Engineering.
● BALLPARK = $150,000
I know this is a lot to digest, but something does need to be done in the near future because this plant is not reliable and really isn’t even safe to operate as is. Please let us know how you would like to proceed.
President – Sharp Water Culligan
Board members present: Smith, Custead, Miller, West, Constantino,
Call to order: 10:32am Lynne Partridge, ChairI. Update: Water has been leaking from the pump house for the past
few days. It is currently being repaired by Somerset Well Drilling- not
sure how long this will take. It was discovered that the HOA
communication between Somerset and St Martins concerning this
repair was inadequate. Therefore in the future there will be multiple
Board members involved in water pump/pump house issues. Lead
will be Bill Custead; Keith Miller will back him up on days he is not
available. More members will be added if needed.
- Bill will arrange a meeting with Sharp (and any other Board
member who wants to attend) to discuss long range plans,
replacement equipment etc to prevent these water emergencies
from occurring until we are on the County system.
- Keith will arrange a meeting with Delmarva Water as a second
- Lynne will reach out to Ruth Waters and Mary Beth Carrozza to
expedite our connection to County water.
II. Pool: According to Ken at Premier Pool the pool is safe for swimming
if the floor drains are visible, i.e. discolored but not cloudy. A sign was
posted to that effect.
III. Notify County to expedite Water project:
- Lynne sent an email to the County (7/4/23) written by Bill, requesting
that plans, permits, other needed info for water/sewer be sent to St
Martins by the Bay.
IV. Wetlands Damage and Environmental complaint: Discussion
concerning the illegal phragmites control in front of townhome 22.
- This damage has been reported to the County Environmental
Department. While the damage was done by an owner, the land is
owned by the HOA and therefore the HOA is liable for fines and
remediation. Will await direction from the County inspector.
Meeting Adjourned: 11:10
St Martin’s by The Bay 5/30/23
Mr. Robert Mitchell
Director of Environmental Engineering, Worcester County
Post Grant award of $1,024,000.00 from USDA questions:
While we are aware the exact costs will not be known until after the public bid opening, we are attempting get the closest possible understanding of future costs at this time to best prepare our community for the installation of a new County owned water system. We have several questions so we can begin the process.
1)A community vote was held in early 2017 to have the County further explore the possibility of providing public water to St. Martins. The vote was greater than the needed 67% approval rate to proceed. The County has since done a Preliminary Engineering Report (P.E.R.) dated Nov. 2021 and received a grant from the USDA for $1,000.024.00. Is an additional vote required from the Community to move forward with design and construction?
2)According to a recent email this year, you told us an easement to tie-in to the 8” water main at River Run was not granted. This easement issue applies to options 3 and 4 according to the P.E.R. Can we assume these two options are no longer viable, and the only remaining options are 1 and 2?
3)If the USDA has authorized a grant of $1,024,000.00 which you stated covers 41 percent of the anticipated costs, this means the total cost is estimated at $2,497,560.00. This would leave the Community having to finance the difference of $1,473,560.00 which may be difficult to afford. Our Community voted to proceed in 2017 based on the County estimate in 2019 of $750,000.00 with the hope at least a portion would be covered by a grant. While we understand the initial estimate(s) may have been low, can you please help us better understand why the number seems to be so high?
4)Since the P.E.R options 3 and 4 (tie-in to River Run) are no longer being considered due to easement issues, what is the present recommended option at this point. Option 1 that connects at St. Martins Lane and Beauchamp Rd, or Option 2 connecting to White Horse Dr with a bore under Beauchamp Dr? Both options in accordance with the P.E.R were approximately $1,600,000.00. Can you please explain where an added cost of almost $900,000.00 comes from?
5)Given the grant portion is known to be $1,024,000.00, the remainder above this amount we assume the Community will have to repay to the County through water bills per each EDU. At this time do you know the interest rate, and length of such loan so we can judge affordability?
6)Per the 2022 County “Assessments and Charges” for various water and sewer rates, will we be charged per EDU, the same amount as River Run (water only) at the minimum quarterly rate of $56.00 plus $.50 per 1,000 up to 10,000 gallons, and $1.09 per 1,000 gallons, over 10,000 gallons to 25,000.00 GALLONS? We understand the P.E.R. has an estimate of 18,000 gallons per quarter per EDU. Using this average per household, this works out to approximately $69.72 per quarter, or $23.24 per month. Other than servicing the loan debt, are there any other fees or charges we should consider?
7)We cannot seem to find any “as-builts” for our existing water and sewer system. Is there any chance upon further investigation the County may have a copy? We believe finding them will help reduce cost in test pitting for the design phase, and/or reducing contractor risk in not knowing where the present water and sewer lines are buried.
As you can see by our questions, affordability is key to getting the Community on board with the expense of a new water system. The more information we have, the better prepared we will be to inform our neighbors.
Thanks again for your hard work, getting us to this point. Hopefully you can find time this Thursday of Friday to meet with us. I will follow up with an email to confirm.
St. Martins By the Bay, Board Member.