July Ocean City Drilling Ban Over Quickly

The need for the directional boring, to put in new underground pipes and cables underneath the street of this popular resort city, was clearly important. But the logic of the moratorium, which was to avoid damage to existing water or sewer lines during the boring, also seemed irrefutable.

Irrefutable, at least, until the Public Works Director Hal Adkins did an investigation of the facts behind the concerns. The reality, he said, was that in thousands of directional drilling linage feeds every year, typically the city was seeing only around four hits in the process.

Councilman Dare’s logic behind the original ban was focused on poor contractor workmanship in general, and in particular problems like a sinkhole showing up by a storm drain. That sinkhole, which appeared near the intersection of Arctic Avenue and 93rd street, happened after a new natural gas main was installed by Sandpiper Energy under the road.

The sinkhole was expensive to deal with and created some havoc locally. But further investigation by the Public Works Director and others suggested the city itself needed to look into better marking of existing water and sewer lines, along with creating an accurate database that could be shared with contractors before they start work. And while that might take some time to that properly, the need for new pipes and cable lines of various kinds in the city was considered to be far more important than to halt all directional boring in the city whatsoever.

The ban on the drilling was eventually lifted after two additional steps were agreed on for the city. The first was a further investigation of the 93rd street boring accident.  And the second was to lift the ban only for those who have already secured bonds to protect the city in the event of damage during their work.