A public hearing will be held on Monday, June 17, 2019 for a second reading and adoption of a proposed ordinance that would authorize a water supply and distribution agreement between Middle Township and Lower Township Municipal Utilities Authority (LTMUA). The agreement would alleviate the infiltration of salt water in certain wells supplying water to Middle Township’s Del Haven community. The meeting will be held at Town Hall at 33 Mechanic St., Cape May Court House, at 6 p.m.
A number of potential ideas to address the situation have been considered, including expanding the New Jersey American Water system creating a Middle Township water distribution system that would purchase water from New Jersey American, Wildwood, or LTMUA; or expanding the LTMUA water supply system.
The overarching framework for any solution, according to Middle Township Mayor Timothy C. Donohue, had to be an ability to provide a permanent source of drinkable water for the community of Del Haven and nearby areas.
“This is a unique partnership that was five years in the making between Middle Township, the LTMUA and Wildwood Water that will end decades of poor water quality in Del Haven, while advancing the state’s broader initiative to create interconnectivity and support systems between neighboring water utilities,” said Donohue.
“Importantly, the partnership had to be at the lowest cost to homeowners over the long-term. Equally important, the cost of the system selected had to be ratepayer-based, with no impact to taxpayers. For taxpayers outside the service area, this is a cost neutral project,” emphasized Donohue.
“Del Haven has waited a long time for a solution to their failing wells,” added Middle Township Committeeman Michael Clark. “We have worked tirelessly for an answer. Now after many attempts and exploring numerous options, we finally have the appropriate solution.”
Committeeman Ike Gandy spoke as both a township representative and resident with personal experience. “Growing up in Green Creek, I understand the water problem firsthand. In 1973, my father was told we would have water and sewer within 10 years. I’m very proud to help make that promise a reality,” said Gandy.
The agreement with the LTMUA utilizes low-cost financing for the improvements, with the possibility of some grant funding. It would be for 40 years, with two, 20-year renewals. Property owners would be required to connect to the system under a mandatory connection ordinance; connections must be completed within one-year of notification by the LTMUA. Water meters may not be bypassed.
The mandatory connection ordinance is required to enable the financing of the system and guarantee that costs are distributed among the maximum number of properties. A monthly connection fee of $80.00 would be paid over a five-year period. LTMUA said it is seeking grants to offset the cost of the connection fees. Monthly costs, excluding the connection fee, would be about $51.00 or less, approximately $1.70 per day.
Private wells would be required to be abandoned and sealed in accordance with the law, although they may continue to be used for irrigation, so long as there is no physical connection to the LTMUA water system.
LTMUA charges would include construction costs for the Middle Township system and one-half of the cost to connect to the Wildwood water system, plus a portion of the rate charged to Lower Township users. LTMUA would be responsible for maintaining, operating and, if necessary, improving the system.
Middle Township and its taxpayers will not be taking on any of the long-term debt to finance the construction of the system. Also, administrative costs of operations or billing will not be the responsibility of the Township or its taxpayers.
According to Donohue, in addition to providing a secure, reliable source of drinking water by addressing the issue of failing wells throughout Del Haven and adjacent areas, the water supply agreement would increase property values. It would also further the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) goal of creating a regional, interconnected water system that is within public control, ratepayer-funded, and is managed by an experienced operator – LTMUA.