Referendum OK sets wheels for Ellendale Water District in motion

Ellendale residents Bishop Major Foster, front left, and Harold Truxon, right, await Sussex County Council’s adoption of the successful referendum for the Ellendale Water District. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — Sussex County Council’s official adoption of the recent passage of a referendum creating the Ellendale Water District ignited applause and set in motion the next steps to be taken by the county to bring central water to approximately 100 Ellendale-area residences.

After three defeats, eligible voters cast approval by an 81-21 margin on Sept. 15 for a county-based public water system through which Sussex County will contract with Artesian Water Company to supply the water to customers along Old State Road.

Several of those Ellendale residents offered rousing applause when county council at its Tuesday meeting formally adopted a resolution acknowledging the referendum results. Those on hand included Major Bishop Foster, Harold Truxon and Delores Price, who have spearheaded the effort for public water for more than 30 years.

Ellendale for many years has had sewer service through a unified sewer district. But efforts to bring public water to the tiny community south of Milford until now have failed, most recently with a referendum defeat in November 2017.

“It goes back to the days of the sewer district creation, which is almost 30 years,” said Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz.

County council and Mr. Medlarz were informed by Ellendale residents it is actually in the neighborhood of 35 years.

Council’s vote was 4-0.

“Congratulations to everybody involved and hopefully we’ll move this along very expeditiously,” said Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent.

“Thirty-five years in waiting …,” said county councilman Rob Arlett. “I will say, I think good quality water is expected as is good quality air. I think that is the role of any and all governments at all levels. And those who don’t understand it shouldn’t be in office.”

The estimated average household cost annually will be approximately $430, based on consumption and front-footage cost.

Billing services will be provided by Sussex County.

By Title 9 of Delaware Code, county council was required to issue a determination establishing the district within 90 days of the referendum.

Establishment of the water district:

• Allows the county engineer and the county attorney for the county council (J. Everett Moore Jr.) to procure necessary lands and right-of-ways by purchase, agreement or condemnation;

• Directs the county engineer to prepare maps, plans, specifications and estimates for any or all structures required to provide for the installation of the water system; and

• Directs the county finance director (Gina Jennings) and county engineer to apply for, accept and receive grants, loans, and other funding necessary to provide adequate financing for the planning, design, construction and all other phases of the water district.

“We have to receive grant money from state of Delaware. We have certainly received assurances that this is all moving in the right direction,” said Mr. Medlarz, who emphasized that this will require a lot of grant funding.

“And, I advise the community it may require two fiscal year funding cycles.”

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