Ocean City Today

Cost from water main break paid

Chesapeake Utilities, resort reach settlement; release not admission of liability
By Katie Tabeling | Jun 22, 2017
File Photo City staff work to repave the excavated road after repairing a broken water main in January.

(June 23, 2017) Ocean City has settled with Chesapeake Utilities after one of its contractors bored through the city’s main water line in January. Per the agreement, the resort has recovered what it spent on the repair effort.

Chesapeake Utilities legal counsel presented City Manager Doug Miller and City Solicitor Guy Ayres with a check of $135,271.34 on Monday. In return, Miller and Ayres signed a final release that “forever discharges Chesapeake Utilities and its subsidiary[ies] from all claims” from here on out that may have occurred on or around Jan. 20, 2017.

On that day around 2:30 p.m., a Chesapeake Utilities subcontractor was boring into the road around 16th Street and Philadelphia Avenue, when equipment struck the 24-inch water main.

The work was being done as part of the company’s natural gas line installation project throughout the resort through Sandpiper Energy, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities. City officials contend that the subcontractor, Chesapeake Trenching, had hit a line that Public Works Department personnel had marked before road boring started.

Public Works officials said it was revealed after the water main break that Chesapeake Trenching’s drill head became stuck on Jan. 17 while boring. Instead of notifying the city or excavating the area, the subcontractor resumed work that Friday.

Ocean City also has a tradition not to do road boring on Fridays, in case an incident happens.

The water main break left residents in a two-block area without water for the next 12 hours as city staff worked to replace the pipe.

Portions of the $135,271.34 that Chesapeake Utilities paid Ocean City will cover $20,800 of overtime and labor costs from city employees. Another $113,460 will cover the costs Ocean City incurred by hiring an outside contractor to fix the problem.

According to the release, the settlement does not “operate as an admission of liability on the part” of Chesapeake Utility.


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