Sussex County will have a referendum to create an Ellendale water district from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, at Philadelphia Pentecostal Holiness Church, 13724 S. Old State Road.
With a new boundary that excludes most of town limits, Ellendale residents concerned about their wells asked Sussex County to establish a water district. Two proposals for water districts have been defeated over the past eight years.
A previous proposal for a larger district was defeated in a Nov. 4, 2017 referendum in the small town split by Route 16.
During Sussex County Council's Sept. 11 meeting, Ellendale Mayor Kimberly Hughes said town officials were blindsided by the latest attempt to create a water district. “Understanding this water district is larger than the town, it would have been nice to include a member of the town council in the initial stages of this proposed new system, seeing as how it was going to include part of our town residents,” she said. “We feel the town was left out intentionally and do not think that is the appropriate way to do business.”
County engineer Hans Medlarz said the plan includes a partnership with Artesian Water Co. Sussex County would handle billing, and Artesian would supply water and maintain the system.
The company already has established a water district within part of the proposed boundary, and residents in the two areas would have different rates.
The projected annual cost under the previous plan was $400. The cost was the main factor cited last year by opponents in the 120-107 vote against the proposal. That amount included a county subsidy to not charge residents to hook into the system.
The county provides central sewer service to Ellendale residents, but drinking water comes from private wells. Another request to hook up to a public system was defeated during a 2009 referendum.