Staffing mix up leads to missed water quality testing in Ocean Pines


OCEAN PINES, Md. – A staffing mix up in Worcester County left some drinking water sources untested in 2019. The Water and Waste Water Department says it was a mistake that should never have happened. “We operate eight different water service areas, and this one was – it just fell through the cracks,” said deputy director of Public Works John Ross.

Some Ocean Pines residents say they were met with surprise while reading their water quality data report. A box at the bottom of the report indicated the Worcester County Department of Water and Waste Water had failed to test one of the wells for nitrates in 2019. “I was a little bit flabbergasted because we look at Ocean Pines and it seems to be a pretty well managed community. It’s got a lot of caring folks,” said Ocean Pines resident Rick Kelly.

The Water and Waste Water Department tells 47ABC that the testing was missed because the supervisor retired – and his replacement didn’t know about the water testing. “The new water supervisor didn’t know about it and none of us told him about it. We probably should’ve went in and spent a little more time with him, and made sure that we got those samples, but we didn’t,” said Ross.

Ross says that as soon as they were notified by the Maryland Department of the Environment about the missed testing, technicians went out and collected samples. However, because of the late testing, they couldn’t include the new data in the 2019 report. “We did all those things that were required. We sent the reports out as required. It is what it is. It gets reported as a sampling violation,” said Ross.

The Department of Water and Waste Water says that results showed that the drinking water in Ocean Pines is safe to drink. Ross says people shouldn’t be overly concerned about the safety of their drinking water. “It was never any issue with the water quality. It was all about the paperwork being sent up to Baltimore and there was never any danger,” said Ross.

Kelly says he understands mistakes can happen, but that he’s still left wondering how this went unnoticed. “I understand mistakes happen, right? Big or small, but retirement isn’t something that catches you off guard. So I’ll be interested to get a little more detail behind this,” said Kelly.

Ross says the department is looking at how to avoid this problem again in the future. He says that Ocean Pines residents will see the results for 2020 testing in writing next year.

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