Third referendum try for Ellendale water district Saturday

ELLENDALE – A third attempt to bring a county-based public water system in Ellendale will go before eligible voters this Saturday.

A referendum for the Greater Ellendale Water District will be held Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Philadelphia Pentecostal Holiness Church on Old State Road.

On June 26, Sussex County Council approved the revised boundary of the proposed Greater Ellendale Water District – nearly eight months after a water district pitch that encompassed the town of Ellendale was narrowly defeated in a Nov. 4, 2017 referendum.

An initial attempt back in 2009 involving the county to establish a water district in Ellendale also failed to win voter approval.

With referendum passage, Sussex County will contract with Artesian Water Company to supply the water to the customers, Mr. Ashman said.

The county’s receipt of the required number of petitions triggered this latest water district attempt.

At the Sept. 11 county council meeting, Ellendale vice mayor Virginia Weller presented a letter from Ellendale Mayor Kimberly Hughes that stated the town was not initially informed of this proposal and was basically left out of the process.

“The town of Ellendale was disappointed that we were the last one to find out there was yet another referendum, so shortly after the last one failed. Understanding that this water district is larger than the town, it would have been nice to include a member of town council in the initial stages of this proposed new water system, seeing as how it was going to include part of our town residents,” Mayor Hughes’ letter read.

“As stated before in previous conversations, we do not want to keep clean, healthy water from anyone who needs it, but the fact that this includes part of our residents, we should have been included from the beginning. This water system will have adverse effects on our desire for annexation and growth and it will impact funding we receive, such as CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies and other grants that could potentially be used for in-town use, that will now go to a system we were not included on the process of, even though it includes part of the town,” Mayor Hughes stated in her letter. “This just is not how the town should have found out about this water system, after signs were placed along north and south Old State Road, sending some of our in-town and some of our out-of-town residents into worry and concern, making the town look as if it was ‘sneaking in another attempt’ when the town knew nothing of this system until essentially the same time they were finding out.”

Under that proposal, the estimated average household cost annually was about $400 based on consumption and front-footage cost. Non-profits such as fire companies and churches would not pay front footage costs.

Billing services would be provided by Sussex County.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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