Delay County Water System Decision

Published 4:01 pm Thursday, February 24, 2011

Editor, The Herald:

I was on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors when the gates to Sandy River Reservoir were closed in 1991 and have a real interest in the management of this valuable water resource. The original vision was for the county and town of Farmville to share this water. Unfortunately, this has not materialized.

At the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors' special hearing on Thursday evening, February 10, the results of the Crowder Construction/Draper Aden engineers' Sandy River Reservoir Study were presented to a standing-room crowd of interested citizens. (Kudos to Rob Chapman's coverage of this meeting) A detailed proposal for the design and construction of a water intake, treatment and service distribution system was explained. The engineers had even acquired bids for the project to support their cost estimates, which ranged from 33.7 million dollars in 2008 to a reduced figure of $30 million in 2011. We were told that “the stars seemed to be in alignment” for the project since interest rates are low and the economy seems to be recovering. Several valid concerns were raised by Supervisor, Jim Wilck, such as the fact that certain permits still need to be completed and that additional studies on the effects of spring and fall water themo cline turnovers need to be done.

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I would like to offer several suggestions:

• Our Supervisors should not be urged or pushed into this April or May deadline imposed by others on this costly project. Several studies along with the necessary state certification appear to be in conflict with meeting the deadlines.

• Our Supervisors would be ill advised to accept bids that they have not reviewed and advertised and would have little or no recourse on these contracts.

• The Town of Farmville has presented evidence for its foreseeable water needs. Should increases in population or industry occur in the future, the need to share resources may foster cooperation by both parties.

• There is no emergency or urgency to act at this time. It took years to build, to close the gates and to fill the reservoir. What is the rush now? Low interest rates? A recovering economy? The price tag is still projected at $24.7 million, plus $841,900 in indirect costs, plus $2.5 million for the pipes and pumps at the Manor resort and the $2 million already paid to Crowder/Draper-Aden, plus other incidental costs for the engineering study (all borrowed) and you are close to $30 million.

• If this project is started at this time, the taxpayers of the town and county would assume a sizeable debt service. The town is already considering a tax increase and at the federal level debt is being funded by China.

• By delaying action at this time it may be possible in the future to transfer the proposed $30 million dollar debt to another county. Counties to our east continue to experience water shortages. They have population densities and a tax base that could fund the cost of a pipeline to our dam and provide a source of revenue for our county. “They also serve who stand and wait.”

Marvin W. Scott