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In Ocean City, go with the flow?

The temptation on this story is to go with something like, “Ocean City not flush with visitors” or “O.C. tourism down the drain.” But we’re stronger than that. We resisted.

At least, we resisted for the headline.

Visitors to Ocean City have declined for four straight years, according to the resort town’s statistics, but The Daily Times of Salisbury reports that there is some question about how accurate those numbers are.

Ocean City uses Demoflush, which measures wastewater in O.C.’s sewage system and then applies a formula to come up with the number of visitors. Last year, that number was 7.6 million for the year (3.4 million in the summer), compared with 8.1 million and 3.6 million in 2009.

But here’s an issue with using sewage flow, as the Times wrote:

The town and Worcester County have an agreement that lets West Ocean City contribute up to 1 million gallons of wastewater a day into the Ocean City sewage treatment plant.

But when that happens, it’s indistinguishable from the island’s flush count.

There is also the matter of newer plumbing using less water than when the formula was devised in 1971. And what about all the people who can’t use the Ocean City bathrooms because visitors are occupying them to change out of their bathing suits?

Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins has suggested a new way to calculate the number of visitors by applying a combination of figures that include taxes on hotel rooms and food, water use, public transportation ridership and parking lot business.

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