Selbyville overwhelmingly passes referendum for new wells

On July 20, the Town of Selbyville held a referendum on a resolution to authorize the issuance of up to $1.4 million in bonds to provide for the installation of a new drinking well. The referendum passed unanimously, with a vote of 201-0 in favor.

In November of 2009, a well was found to be over the state regulated limit of a chemical known as MTBE [methyl tert-butyl ether], a chemical that gasoline companies add to gasoline, which became a substitute for lead. Since then, the Town has been working with the Delaware Division of Public Health and Social Services, and applied to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program for funding for new wells.

Through the program, the Town will be given a $1.4 million loan at zero-percent interest, which, upon full completion of the project, they will not have to repay. However, in order to authorize the issuance of the bonds, the town code required a referendum.

“I think they recognize that this is a project that needs to be done,” said Town Administrator Richard Dickerson of Selbyville residents. “We’re fortunate that we have this offer through the state of Delaware’s Drinking Water State revolving funds program. They made us a very generous offer to finance this project, and I think, overwhelmingly, the people recognized the opportunity that was available, afforded to the town, and wholeheartedly took advantage of it.”

Dickerson said the town has approximately 2,500 residents, and since the announcement of the referendum, about 100 residents had registered to vote.

“It was a lot more than we normally see in a town election,” he said, noting that the town had only about 330 registered voters before the spate of registrations ahead of the referendum.

The monies will pay for the installation two new wells 3,500 feet north of town hall, “completely outside of the plume of any contamination,” as well as to connect electrical service and install a water main. The Town is currently looking for interim treatment solutions for the water, in case the contamination levels increase.

“We’re working with the State to possibly provide a temporary solution for treating the water, should we need to if we see any increase in contaminant, as a precaution,” Dickerson said.

Now that the referendum has passed, Dickerson said more engineering has to be done before the project can be bid out to contractors. Town engineering consultant Erik Retzlaff of Davis, Bowen and Friedel estimated that construction of the new wells could last between six and nine months.

“I’d say it may be late 2012 by the time it gets finished. Hopefully, sooner, but this is an outside guesstimate this point,” said Dickerson.