Water Interest

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, September 29, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD-County officials have taken a long look at a public water system using the Sandy River Reservoir. And, while they are on course to partner with Farmville in a water authority that could serve both entities, the County has not ended an interim agreement with Crowder Construction to study the construction of the County's own water system that could also serve the towns of Burkeville and Crewe.

“Well, we certainly haven't said no,” Burkeville Mayor Joe Morrissette told The Herald, when asked about their interest at this point. “But, I mean we haven't said yes by any means, either…We don't have any money…We do not have any money, as I've told (County Administrator) Wade…Bartlett…We barely can pay our current expenditures.”

Crowder Construction, working specifically with the County through a PPEA proposal (an acronym for the Public Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002), has extensively studied service lines that could stretch to the towns of Burkeville and Crewe in addition to a service line south of Farmville.

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That proposal factors the construction of an intake, water treatment facility and service lines extending to serve an area south of Farmville to Hampden-Sydney and east to Crewe. It has been projected at $24,879,000, though there were also estimated indirect costs of $841,900.

The County has not committed to construction, but is taking a look at partnering with the Town.

Mayor Morrissette, went on to note that they owe $3,700-plus every month for a sewage system; the two notes, he added, won't mature until 2035 and 2036.

“Now I will be 93 and 94 years old if I live that long when we pay those off,” he said. “I cannot in good faith…put this

Town any further in debt when we don't have but 400 and some people and we're on fixed income. It's just no way that I can go out and do that.”

While grants are a possibility, Morrissette noted that it's still taxpayers' money and grants do not come free of charge-that they have attachments to them.

“You have to have in-kind…and we do not have any money,” he said. “We can't write a grant. We don't have a grant writer. We…can't pay anybody to do anything and nobody wants to do anything free.”

Morrissette noted that they have seven wells that produce enough water for the Town for residential, but that they can't supply to an industry. (They have about 280-290 water hook ups.)

“…It's just no way that we can even think about entertaining any great amount of industry,” he said. “We're taxed to have the Comfort Inn hooked to our water system.”

Morrissette said they think it's a great idea and wish them well, but that they do not have any money.

Morrissette, clarified in the interview that he does not speak for Council, said he would “not deny them the opportunity if they…feel like if they want to come through Burkeville to get to Crewe, we'll do everything we can to help 'em. But (as) far as we being the nuclei of it, I don't see that.”

He also commented, “I'm not opposed to progress, but going in debt is not progress.”

A few further miles east, Crewe-a larger incorporated town-is also a potential customer.

What is their level of interest at this point in a possible public water system in Prince Edward that might tap into the Sandy River Reservoir?

“…I'd say very little,” Mayor Gary “Lee” Simmons Jr. told The Herald. “…There's been no conversation between us and Prince Edward in quite some time.”

Are they satisfied with their water system-are they satisfied with the service? Mayor Simmons offered that they're “good with it. The only time we have issues is in periods of extreme drought…We're looking at alternative sources just for mostly growth…and also a back-up plan and periods of extreme drought … We're not against…hooking up with another municipal water system if it makes sense for us, but I don't know…”

He added, “I think they were beginning talks with Farmville at the time on combining that system and really, since then, we haven't really been part of the conversation.”