Town Offers Water Deal To PE

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville is offering Prince Edward County an agreement that includes a joint pipeline project from the Sandy River Reservoir to the Town's water treatment plant “at such time as the need exists.”

The unanimous Town Council vote Friday afternoon followed an executive or closed session discussion and came with no comments made by council members in open session, other than the offering of the motion, itself.

The resolution includes creation of a “water resource committee to be comprised of two non-elected non-government employed citizens of the Town and two non-elected non-government employed citizens of the County to advise the parties going forward on the best and most cost efficient methods of servicing the region's water needs.”

This four-person committee would apparently have a large influence over when a pipeline were ever to actually be built from the Sandy River Reservoir to the Town of Farmville's water treatment plant.

On this point, the resolution offers Prince Edward County “an agreement, to be drafted by the parties, to allow for both parties to share in the cost of accessing the Sandy (River) Reservoir and connecting same to the Town's existing water treatment system, at such time as the need exists as defined by specific parameters to be determined by the (four-person) Committee.”

The proposed deal also includes a ten-year extension of “guaranteed access to the Town's water system beyond 2018.”

The Town's resolution states that the proposal would create “the ability to avoid forcing the taxpayers of both the Town and County from having to incur tens of millions of dollars in debt for a system acknowledged by the County's own consultants to be-at best-redundant, impractical and uneconomical.”

The County is considering creating its own water system, with a water treatment plant built at the reservoir and water lines to allow Prince Edward to develop service to county residents and businesses (and perhaps non-County customers) not currently on a public water supply. The County's infrastructure would include a waterline that the Town of Farmville could tap into should a drought crisis confront the Town and the customers who depend upon Farmville for water and sewer service.

A series of informational meetings throughout the County-district by district-began this week, and the County faces a decision deadline next month on whether or not to accept a construction proposal.

After Friday's executive session and following council's return to open session, Town Council member Dr. Gordon said he wasn't going to read the entire resolution but did say this:

“I have a resolution before us, recommending extension of the water and sewer agreement between the County of Prince Edward, Virginia and the Town of Farmville, Virginia dated April 22, 2011 that I would like to make a motion that we pass as a town council,”

There was a second to that motion and the unanimous vote followed (council members Sally Thompson and Donald L. Hunter were absent from council's delayed and rescheduled April monthly meeting).

With no further comments by any Town officials on the proposed deal, Town Council adjourned within seconds of the vote.

After the meeting, Town Manager Gerald Spates was asked by The Farmville Herald about the resolution and its offer to the County.

When asked about the timetable for construction of a pipeline from the Sandy River Reservoir to the Town's water treatment plant, Spates said the resolution “spells out in there when the need is.”

Spates said the language regarding the pipeline is not a part of the existing water and sewer agreement between the Town and County.

“Not the pipeline, so much. I mean, I think we're looking at; we've got an engineer studying now to see what impact it would have… Tying (the pipeline) into Wilck's Lake,” Spates said, “was one of the discussions, dumping (the water) there first. And hopefully, if you look at having a back-up water supply, you know, hopefully you never use it. It may sit there five, ten years and not be used, but it's there if you need it.”

One of the arguments for building the pipeline now, before a crisis is reached, is that waiting for a devastating drought to occur and then starting from scratch on a pipeline would see construction and use of the water take perhaps two or three years.

“Oh yeah…but if you had it (the pipeline) sitting there so that if you did need it it was ready to go,” the town manager acknowledged. “And you test it periodically to make sure everything's working.”

The document unanimously approved on Friday is called “Resolution recommending the extension of the water and sewer agreement between the County of Prince Edward, Virginia and the Town of Farmville, Virginia.”

The resolution notes that “both parties are concerned about reliable long term planning to meet the water consumption needs of its residents.”

The document also points out that “the Town has two water reservoirs and two intake permits in operation or pending approval, and has water resources and existing treatment facilities paid for by Town citizens substantial enough to address the needs of both the Town and the County for the foreseeable future.

The proposal being offered to the County furthermore states that “the County has a water withdrawal permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality allowing for water withdrawal from the Sandy River Reservoir which expires in 2021, and which withdrawal permit is not being utilized due to lack of demand.”

Additionally, it states that “the County has the ability-regardless of need-to request an extension of the discharge permit provided it is the owner of all lands adjacent to the Sandy River Reservoir.”

And finally, “It is in the mutual benefit of all of the citizens and taxpayers of the County and the Town to provide for both near and long term water needs of the citizens in the most practical, economical and environmentally sound manner possible.”