Please send your questions about this project to "[email protected]". Our team is working with the County Project Manager and has the most up-to-date info.
April 2023 - Contractor Bids were received and opened on 4/19/23
Every viable bid was above the amount budgeted for the project due to the increased costs of materials and labor. The County is going to repackage the Bid, have it approved by County Council and re-release it. Changes to the Bid document will include different ways of executing the project which have come to light in the last few weeks. The project manager sees this as something that can be worked through. When the Board discussed the problem with him, he said this is all still doable, but will take time to work out in order to stay within the budget. Other communities are in the same situation, some are much worse off than Lochwood. This is obviously not the best news and is completely out of our control. As more info becomes available it will be posted. Best case scenario now is for a late summer/early fall start date.
March 2023 - Permits have been Issued
The next step is project bidding by contractors. The award of the project to a contractor should happen in April 2023 and the project will begin to take shape.
February 5, 2023 - Wastewater Facilities Construction Permit Application: Sussex County
Sussex County Council/Sussex County Engineering of Georgetown, Delaware, to construct a vacuum pump station, with dual vacuum and discharge sewage pumps and three thousand, one hundred linear feet (3,100 LF) of four (4) and six (6) inch forcemains to serve the existing Lochwood residential subdivision. For more info; https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/public-notices/wastewater-facilities-construction-permit-application-sussex-county-8/
January 5, 2023 - Timeline update
This project is planned to start in May 2023 and continue for 12 months. Please note this is subject to change and probably will!
November 15, 2022 - Plumber estimates
If you get an estimate for your plumbing work to connect to the new sewer system, please note that Harry Caswell is offering a 10% discount. Your estimate from them will not reflect the discount. Please note the discount will apply to everything EXCEPT the $200 county permit fee. You do not need to use Caswell, we reached out to them on behalf of the community to secure a volume discount with a reputable local company. If you choose another company, please make sure they are licensed.
October 22, 2022 - Q & A at LPOA Annual Meeting with Hans Medlarz and Harry Caswell
This information is contained in the Annual Meeting Minutes, which are not yet formally approved by the Board, however they have been reviewed. For those that were unable to attend the meeting, we are publishing an excerpt of the sewer project info now, given the importance of this information to all owners;
Please Note: The approved LPOA Annual Meeting Minutes will be published in their entirety after the Nov '22 Board Meeting in the same location as all meeting minutes on this site.
- Sewer Project Updates: Hans Medlarz Chief Engineer, Sussex County was up first with updates on the Sewer Project as he took questions from residents.
- A question was asked about what to do if you have 2 lots? Will you be charged double? Hans M. replied, if any resident owns two lots (side by side) and they are deeded separately, they should have them combined as one legally, prior to the start of the sewer project or you will be billed for both lots. If you are planning on selling one of the lots, then keep your lots separate. For information on how to consolidate, you will need to call Sussex County Planning and Zoning with your questions, and they will let you know what you need to do.
- A question was asked if you can prepay the loan in a lump sum? Hans M. replied, if all owners do not prepay their loan, then no one can prepay. The funding is with USDA and comes with a 40-year term at 1.75%.
- How are people with a low or fixed incomes going to be able to pay for this? Hans said there is assistance for helping those with low or fixed incomes, if you meet the criteria. You would need to call the County Financial Office (302) 854-5087) and ask for the information.
- What are our financial obligations? Plumber ($3,000 - $4,500), Annual Assessment for USDA Loan repayment (~$700 yr.), Quarterly usage (~$80 qtr.) The repayment of the USDA loan calculation annual payback amount is based on median income of Sussex County residents, using a formula the Federal government uses that says we should pay 1.5% of annual income on sewer costs. Given the amount of the loan and the interest rate, this calculates to $700 per year for 40 years. Billing will begin once the system is complete and has been accepted.
- Why are we not billed based on our water usage? Not everyone is on public water in Lochwood, so there is no way to use a metering method for some but not all.
- After we are connected, if there is a problem with the sewer system, who do we call to come and fix the problem? Hans said, you will call the County Hot Line number which will be provided and leave a message. Within 2-4 hours someone will respond to assess the problem and either make the repair or let you know the blockage is between your home and the vacuum pit which is your responsibility. If you share a vacuum pit with your neighbor, you will not be impacted by a blockage between their home and the vacuum pit.
- A question was asked if the yearly dues for the HOA would be going up also? Louise F. said no, there is no reason to increase dues at this time, however if that is something you want changed it would need to be brought up to the Board at a separate meeting, not this meeting. We would need a good reason to change the dues.
- Do we need to be concerned because vacuum systems are not in use anywhere else in Sussex County? Hans M. said that the Vacuum System technology is not new and is a very reliable system. The selection was made due to our flat elevations. The other option was a gravity system using a grinder pump installed in front of each home.
- Where will the pump station be located? 62 Lake Shore Drive.
- What is the timeline for the project? Drawings to be submitted to DNREC for permitting by Thanksgiving. Permits issued early 2023. Bidding and permitting can both hold up the process and is out of our control. Construction should begin Spring of 2023 and continue through Spring of 2024. We expect the project to take from 12-15 months. In early 2024, you will receive a connect letter from the County. You will have four months to connect. If you use Caswell Plumbing, they will prioritize you. If you are not able to meet the four-month window for connection, it is critical you let them know. The contactor awarded the job will determine where to start the work in the community.
- Harry Caswell, Caswell Plumbing: Harry C. said from a plumbing perspective (connecting your home to the vacuum pit); they will pump out your septic tank then fill it in with dirt. A concrete cap will be placed on top and covered with dirt. They will then run a line from your home, rerouting the outbound sewage from septic to vacuum pit. If you have a mound, it will need to sit for one year to dry out before it can be disturbed or removed. If you have a metal tank, it must be removed. When the time comes, the cut-over process from septic to public sewer will take about 15-20 minutes and will be coordinated with each owner.
- How much will it cost to do each home? Each home will be different but he’s estimating between $3,000. - $4,500, turnkey. Everything he will be doing from start to finish will be included in your estimate. Harry C. said the people that already had him over to look at their property paid a fee. There was some confusion with another community; Lochwood will not be charged for estimates. Those that paid for an estimate will be getting their checks back for that service. Harry also said he will hold the price you are quoted for 2 years until the work is completed.
- If they must move/disturb anything in your yard, they will return or fix that area back as it was prior to start, for example, grass, flowers, bushes etc. staying away from tree roots as much as possible.
- Irrigation system piping and heads must be marked by the owner. Any damage will be repaired but you will be billed.
- A question was asked how long did he think it would take to complete the community hookups? He said they would be doing approximately 2 – 3 homes per day, he’s figuring about 4 months in total.
- Harry C. was asked if he would need an area to store his equipment? Harry C. answered yes, he would for his equipment and staging a dirt pile. Both the County and he are working on that now.
- Louise stated that each homeowner is free to choose the plumbing company of preference. Caswell was engaged in order to give us all a better idea of what is involved and to get a volume discount. Caswell is offering a 10% discount if 25 owners sign a contract with them.
August 24, 2022 - LPOA Annual Meeting to host Sewer Project speakers
The LPOA Annual meeting will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at 9:30am at Long Neck UM Church. Guest speakers will be Hans Medlarz and Randy Duplechain from Sussex County Engineering Office and Harry Caswell from Caswell Plumbing. A brief presentation of the status of the project will be given followed up by a Q&A with homeowners. Please save the date!
Updated 10/22/22 - August 24, 2022- LPOA Board announces Harry Caswell Plumbing offering connection discounts
Harry Caswell Plumbing is offering to connect any Lochwood home to the new sewer system at a discounted rate of 10% off the cost. In addition, if you are uncomfortable with the location of your vacuum pit stake, Caswell will take a look at the location and recommend the best place for the connection to be made to your home. Cost is $160 with $80 of that applied to your bill at time of connection. There is no cost for an estimate (update 10/22/22). If you paid for an estimate, you will receive a refund. You can reach them at 302-945-5322.
August 23, 2022 - Randy Duplechain, County Project Manager
Randy has shared with the LPOA Board that he has not heard from 23 of our residents regarding their sewer connection. If you have not yet connected with Randy, you are almost out of time. Please contact him at 302-542-8491 asap. This includes any lot owner that plans to build and connect in the next year or so.
August 15, 2022 - If you need financial assistance for this project;
Utility Account Specialist III
Sussex County Finance
July 26, 2022 - More info on costs of the new system & volume discount for plumber
Louise reported at the Board Mtg, having a conversation with Hans Medlarz regarding the cost of this project for Lochwood homeowners. The project received financing from USDA, which was the most favorable terms for Lochwood at 1.75% interest and a 45% grant toward the cost of the project or $3.6M. This calculates to $26,200 spread over a 40 year period for homeowner payback at approximately $700 per year. There will be no opportunity for an early payoff due to the processing challenges in their system of tracking who paid early, etc. Unfortunately, most of us will never see this paid off. The amount of the loan will show as a lien against each property in the community and will transfer upon sale to the new owner. While having our community on a public sewer system increases home values, the cost will need to be disclosed to buyers. Don't shoot me, I am just the messenger here.
Larry S. of the Sewer Committee reported they are speaking with one large plumbing company in the area who is offering a 10% or more discount if at least 50 homeowners sign up to use them for connecting to the new system. As of now, they can fit our community into their schedule and tell us they could complete the entire community within four months.
July 13, 2022 - Randy Duplechain (County Project Manager) following up
In response to the letter each homeowner received requesting (1) Vacuum Valve Pit Location Acceptance/Non-Acceptance, (2) Blanket Utility Easement access is granted. Randy is now following up with the owners that have questions, concerns or submitted an incomplete form.
There were 85 owners that did not respond to the letter from the County. They will receive a second letter with a deadline to respond. If they do not, the county will not include them in the project. If you did not receive a letter from Sussex County, dated June 1, 2022 regarding the Lochwood Sewer Extension Project, please contact Randy Duplechain at 302-854-5010 or [email protected] .
June 28, 2022 - Sewer Committee soliciting Plumbing Companies for volume pricing
It was announced at the Board Mtg. that the Sewer Committee will be soliciting local plumbing companies to provide discounted pricing for connecting each home to the new sewer system as well as decommisioning the septic system. A list of viable candidate companies was agreed upon. The Sewer Committee will reach out to each of them for their best deal.
June 7, 2022 - All Owners receive letter from the County
A letter has been sent to all property/homeowners regarding the location of the vacuum pit in the front yard. You have the option to request a change in location. Please respond to this letter even if you are okay with the location of the stake with green and white ribbon on it. You will also need to grant an easement to the county to access your property to perform the work.
If you did not receive a letter, please contact Randy Duplechain immediately at [email protected] or 302-854-5010. Also, check your mailing address with County Records. In addition, the LPOA has granted community right of way access to the County for the purposes of this project.
March 11, 2022 - Meeting with County Project Manager & Survey Company
Members of the Lochwood Sewer Committee met with the County Project Mgr and the Survey Company. The current stage of the project is positioning the "wastewater collection basins" - for want of a better term. Our system will have a vacuum pump, to be installed at 62 Lake Shore, and each house will be connected - individually or in tandem with a neighbor - to these basins, which are basically a 20-30 gallon tank with a float; when the tank fills, the float rises, causing the vacuum to empty the tank. The basins have no electrical components. Each costs ~$6k, so they're trying to minimize the number needed. Together they walked Lake Shore, Pinewood and Blackwood, and they marked on their drawings where the basins should be located. They will be back Wednesday, hopefully to finish this part of the survey. When completed, surveyors will come and stake the position of each basin. The county will send letters to every homeowner and we will have the opportunity to "fine tune" the locations. Some houses are flexible in where the basin can be located. Also, LPOA will be asked to grant an easement for our property at the end of Lakeshore so a pipe can be bored under the end of the pond, to connect to the pump station in the adjoining neighborhood (the new one going up on Dorman Rd.). Notes were made concerning the lots being developed, I believe the County will contact the builders about where to run their waste lines. We talked to a few neighbors, who were interested in what we were doing; most were glad to see "real evidence" that sewers are coming.
February 23, 2022 A Question & Answer exchange with our County Project Manager
Q: Is there a nearby development that has recently been completed using the vacuum pump technology? We would like to see what the pump house looks like.
A: The closest municipality I’m aware of that uses this technology is Somerset County Maryland. I designed a vacuum system for them back in the mid 1990’s. This will be the first vacuum system installed in Sussex County. We are still in the process of determining whether to go with a prefabricated building or an engineered building. As we get closer to making that decision we will let you know, and also share our design ideas.
Q: Will the county provide a list of approved contractors that we can contact for the hookups?
A: The County does not have a list of approved plumbers. We only require that the plumber used is licensed. The County will inspect the installation of the sewer line from the house to the vacuum pit at the time the connection is made.
Q: When should we start the process of contacting them?
A: It is probably never too early to try to find a plumber since they are sometimes hard to find. But my suggestion would be to wait until at least the construction documents are ready for agency submission, anticipated to be in early June of this year. That way you will have some project information to share with the plumber(s) at the time.
Q: How long will we have to hookup?
A: Once construction is complete and the entire system is operational the County will send out letters to the residents letting them know it is time to hook up to the system. They will have 6 months from the date of that letter to connect without incurring any additional fees.
January 18, 2022
The preliminary project schedule for the Lochwood Sewer Extension Project has been provided by the County to our team and is posted below on this page. The system will be a vacuum system. The most recent development is the finalization of the agreement to purchase property for the vacuum building.
December 21, 2021
Surveying of the community has been completed and the selection of the location of the pumping station is underway.
November 17, 2021
We have yet to see the surveyors in the community. Hans has acknowledged they are getting a later then expected start. When they do start we will update the timeline.
October 28, 2021
The Sewer Project Committee will hold its first meeting at 7pm via Zoom.
October 19, 2021
Financial Assistance is available for qualified residents for;
> Sanitary Sewer/Water bills (up to $200 per year)
> System Connection Charges and assistance for failing septic systems (up to $2,500 per year)
The website for the program is; https://sussexcountyde.gov/sewer-and-water-assistance-programs
For more info, call Sussex County Permitting Office at 302-855-7719
October 16, 2021
Hans Medlarz visited our Annual Meeting and discussed both the drainage and sewer projects with the community members.
DRAINAGE: The drainage project did not receive enough approval votes in order to proceed. Hans recommended that we focus our attention on hot spots in the community that seem to always have problems with standing water and work to develop solutions with those homeowners.
SEWER: The project has been assigned to Davis, Bowden & Friedel, Inc. for the design phase. The Design Schedule begins the first week of November with a survey being performed street by street. If you notice the surveyors in your area, please let them know where your septic system is located. If you miss them during the survey, there will be another opportunity to provide this info.
Week 1: Survey Lakewood
Week 2: Survey Pine-wood & Blackwood
Week 3: Survey Lak-e Shore
Week 4: Survey Maplewood & Foxwood
Week 5: Survey Cedarwood, Berrywood & Oakwood
Week 6: Survey Building Site Pad (Pumping Station) and force main path
Week 7: Complete office work and produce existing condition plan
Preliminary Layout - completed within 3 weeks of survey completion
Preliminary Construction Documents - complete within 4 weeks of receiving preliminary layout review comments
Final Construction Documents - within 2 weeks of receiving preliminary construction document comments
Permitting - estimated time frame is 90 days
Lochwood will not qualify for a gravity system due to the high ground water table, therefore the two options available are;
1) grinder pump at each home (requires electricity, will cost about $20/yr for family of 4, or
2) vacuum system which requires no electricity and operates using hydraulics.
When the system is fully operational, each owner will receive a letter to connect and must do so within 4 months, at which time billing will begin. If an owner chooses not to connect, they will still be billed and forced to connect when the home is sold. There will be a cost for each homeowner to hire a plumber to connect the system to their home and to decommission their septic system. Decommissioning a septic system means pumping it out, then filling it with sand or crushing the tank and/or removing the tank. The LPOA will work to negotiate the lowest possible plumber fees for homeowners when we get to that part of the project.
The entire project will take 36 months.
Year 1 - Survey, design, permitting, pumping station construction.
Year 2 - Construction of the system.
Year 3 - Connecting each home to the system.
Financial assistance for connecting will be available from the county. When this info has been received, it will be posted on this page.
October 12, 2021
Hans Medlarz, Sussex County will be a guest speaker at our Annual Meeting 10/16/21 10am to discuss the sewer and proposed drainage projects with us.
June 18, 2021
The project has now officially been funded by USDA and approved by the County Council on 6/15/21. See 'Lochwood Packet Item' below. Once the County has access to the funds they will select an engineering consultant. Design will start in earnest in the fall.
Questions about the project can be directed to;
Office of County Engineer
Hans Medlarz, P.E.
Connection to the new system will be mandatory. Please review the presentation available on this page for specific information including estimated costs (as of 2019). We will get much more detailed info this fall when the design is completed and are able to meet with the County.
** Please note the following correction in the Lochwood Packet to page 1 "Memorandum" paragraph 2: "In April of 2022 the Engineering Department" should read "In April of 2021 the Engineering Department...".