After many years of work, one failed referendum and 100’s of hours put in by volunteers and SERCAP staff, the Ellendale community faced a referendum on Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Ellendale Civic and Community Improvement Association (ECCIA) worked diligently to distribute flyers – “VOTE YES on November 4” – putting out over 40 yard signs, making individual phone calls, and trying to call attention to the critical nature of this referendum. Members of the group also offered rides to the polls for anyone without transportation, and rides to the county seat of Georgetown for absentee voting, if they were unable to get to one of the two polling places on November 4, 2017.
Unfortunately, the referendum failed by just 13 votes – 120 Against vs. 107 In Favor – and the County will likely abandon its effort to establish a water district. Yet, residents in the outer areas of the proposed district continue to have undrinkable water from shallow residential wells. SERCAP participated in water sampling in June 2017 and found that several wells contained bacteria and high nitrate levels while almost all had high iron content. A previous referendum, held by the Town of Ellendale, to establish a community water system failed in 2010. This time, the referendum was held by Sussex County and the vote was not limited to town residents only. The out of town residents have the worst quality water and need a community system the most. The outlying areas are largely minority and working poor, while the in-town residents are a mixture of ethnicities and income levels. ECCIA discussed strategy and next steps at their most recent meeting on November 27, 2017.
*Funding for SERCAP’s Regional Program is provided by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Community Services’ (OCS) Grant, USDA RD’s Technitrain Program, the Drinking Water Compliance Grant through the EPA, the EPA Private Well Grant, the Solid Waste Grant through USDA Rural Development, and the USDA Rural Development RCDI Grant.