Recently, some residents were led to believe that Ocean Ridge had no idea where our buried water pipes, juncture boxes or turn-off valves were located. Of course, if this were true that would be quite shocking and derelict of the town governance.

This concern grew to the point that the alarming topic was covered by The Coastal Star in a reasonable manner considering the information then available. Even a former commissioner, who had recently and abruptly resigned from the commission, piped in by blasting the current commissioners.

All this confusion stemmed from a Town Commission meeting on July 10. There was a broad budget discussion of our aging drinking water infrastructure. At one point during this discussion, it was misguidedly noted that $50,000 might be needed to just find our water valves and pipes.

Predictably this caused a small-town firestorm. I never imagined that Ocean Ridge would be the butt of jokes for knowing where our turtle nests are, but not our water pipes.

As to location of valves, etc., here are the facts. You might find them historically fascinating.

After the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, the Department of Homeland Security ordered that all water-related infrastructure locations were not to be publicly displayed or distributed except under extremely strict guidelines. This was due to the fear of a terrorist attack on the system.

Our town’s longtime engineering firm, Engenuity Group, has a precise GIS (geographical information system) map of our buried water infrastructure. They work closely with our Public Works employees to help them locate pipes and valves that need attention, staying true to the Homeland Security tenets.

Yes, over the last 60-odd years maybe a valve has been buried 6 inches or a foot under dirt, or a few short sections of pipe have been moved a foot or two during a construction project, but with current technology those pipes are found when necessary.

So no, the sky is not falling in Ocean Ridge. We know where our infrastructure is located and, in fact, are currently working on state and federal grants to update some of the aging pipes.

Recently we were awarded an American Rescue Plan Act grant of over $900,000 for just that purpose. That is monies that Ocean Ridge taxpayers do not need to pony up.

Steve Coz
Vice Mayor, Ocean Ridge

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