State backs county plan for airport water

More than four miles of 12-inch pipe will be laid from the Wor-Wic Community College water tank to the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport to pump water to the airport, where quality is now sub-standard.

Heavy metals such as copper and lead have been found in the water there, so the county applied for state funding for the project and was ranked No. 1, said Weston Young, assistant director of administration for Wicomico County.

The Maryland Department of the Environment offers water quality financing, approved after a submittal process. Projects are ranked based on need.

“Things get prioritized. It’s a regional airport, so the number of people who benefit are not just the county population. You can include regional numbers, so that made us much more competitive. In a recent ranking, Wicomico was ranked first across the state. We are more likely to get grant money, money that doesn’t have to be paid back, instead of a low-interest loan. The good news is, we were ranked first,” he said.

County officials are waiting to learn when money will be available.

The county’s annual proposed budget, presented to the Wicomico County Council this week, includes about $300,000 for engineering design and any easements that might need to be acquired.

“That will get the design started. That can be a four or five-month process and then we can acquire the land if we need any land. The intention is to run water mainly from the Wor-Wic tower down Walston Switch Road, through the majority of it, then down Airport Road to the airport proper,” he said.

“This will also open up economic development out there,” Young said.

Dawn Veatch, airport director, has been in contact with drone companies and found there is much interest, he said. “In the coming years, you’ll see a renewed effort to develop that way,” he said.

The project will benefit Wor-Wic because, “when you put up a water tower like Wor-Wic has, it is beneficial to have a lot of draw, so the water is going to homes and businesses constantly and new water is coming in, to prevent it from getting stagnant,” Young said.

“When we say county water, we have a local well. We pull water locally. The city has a few massive wells that provide water throughout their area,” he said.

Another advantage will be, the threshold is 10,000 square feet or larger for hangars that require fire suppression, Young said.

“To have adequate pressure, if the airport didn’t have city water going there, a small tank would be needed at every building, or a tank at the airport to power all those things. This will allow us to put in state-of-of the art hangars,” he said.

Concerning the new fire company that will be stationed at the airport, Young said one of the best arguments for choosing that location is, “the airport needs people trained in ARFF, or aircraft rescue and firefighting. That is specialized training.

“We need ARFF-trained people on the premises. By having a fire department there, it opens Federal Aviation Administration money and other funds not currently available to us,” he said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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