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Spates: Town Would Talk Water, Pipeline Possibility With County

FARMVILLE – Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald on Friday there is still a window of opportunity for a cooperative water project with Prince Edward County and he believes that a joint pipeline venture from the Sandy River Reservoir is still possible.

The Town and County had been studying and moving together toward a project which would have seen them partner in a pipeline from the reservoir to the Town's water treatment plant as a drought-proof water supply for the community.

But that cooperative initiative fell apart approximately two years ago.

Not irrevocably, it seems-at least from the Town's point of view-given Spates' responses to The Herald's questions.

“We're open to sitting down with the County,” Spates said when asked. “I think the (Town) Council would be agreeable to talking with the County on the whole water issue…I think we're open to discussing the whole water issue with the County.”

Those discussions could include renewed talks on Farmville and Prince Edward partnering on the long-planned, and then seemingly abandoned, pipeline from the Sandy River Reservoir to the Town of Farmville's water treatment plant.

“I don't think that's out of the question,” Spates said. “It just depends on what it's going to cost.”

The town manager said Farmville is looking at “around $10 million” in improvements to its water treatment plant “just to be able to use the water” from the reservoir.

The state health department had told the Town it would have to mix reservoir water with water from the Appomattox River if the reservoir pipeline were constructed.

“The big concern I have is-I think it would be nice to have that water (from the reservoir) but is the cost prohibitive to us?…I don't know how much improvements” would be needed at the water plant, Spates said.

Prince Edward County is in the midst of a cost and feasibility analysis for the possible construction of a County-owned water treatment plant at the Sandy River Reservoir, itself, which would see the County operating its own independent water system and providing service to customers not served by the Town.

Farmville, meanwhile, has acquired Mottley Lake to back up the Appomattox River in times of severe drought and plans to construct a pumping station on Buffalo Creek, near the West Third Street bridge, and piping water to the treatment plant from the Buffalo Creek watershed as further insurance in times of severe drought.

Given the state health department's requirement that river water and reservoir water be mixed, the Town's acquisition of Mottley Lake to supplement the river would still figure into a worst-case drought scenario response, as might Buffalo Creek.

A joint pipeline venture between the Town and County, meanwhile, with both localities sharing costs, is still something, Spates said, Farmville would be willing to discuss with Prince Edward.

“I think if we could work out a joint venture and the County somehow buy into our system and we'd serve the areas they want to serve,” the town manager said.

And, to be clear, Town Council would be willing to renew discussions on possible pipeline construction from the Sandy River Reservoir?

“Yeah, I would think they'd (Town Council) be receptive to sitting down and talking about it (the pipeline),” Spates answered.

“We'd be glad to sit down with them.”