Water Weighs In PE

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, January 5, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – The water is still in the Sandy River Reservoir. Exactly how the County plans to tap into the resource-that is still to be determined.

“We don't know,” Board Chairman William “Buckie” Fore said, when asked about the direction they go from here on the water issue.

He noted, “Nothing has been said about it whatsoever. All the energy and emphasis of the board has been on that (Route) 628…We haven't even talked about the water any more.”

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The Route 628 project, an alternate access for the current road that flows through the county's school complex, is on a short timeframe. County officials have worked to secure the necessary right-of-way to get all the dominos of construction in place for the calendar year.

That, given the schedule the County Administrator highlighted at the December board meeting, could get stared in early 2012.

As for water, the County had been studying their own water system to serve an area south of Farmville and potential customers in Crewe and Burkeville. Supervisors shifted their focus last summer to take a look at an equally shared authority with the Town.

But that has apparently dried up as Town officials pulled the plug on the joint effort in October.

The Town is aiming in a new direction, specifically announcing in an October press conference they were pulling out of negotiations to create a regional water and sewer authority. Instead of a joint effort, the Town is looking to establish its own authority, inviting the County to a seat on what would be a new entity.

Supervisors have not rekindled water discussion since that announcement at regular board meetings, although two citizens at the December board meeting favored the County at least constructing an intake for the reservoir.

Meanwhile, much work had already gone into studying a public water system. Under the PPEA, or Public Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, localities may receive unsolicited proposals from private firms – and supervisors considered such a proposal, agreeing to look at the specifics of a possible water project using the Sandy River Reservoir as outlined in an interim agreement with the submitting firm.

That studied project factored 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. The intake structure factors an eight million gallons (MGD) per day intake infrastructure capacity and there would be an easily expandable two MGD facility treatment facility (located about a half mile from the reservoir) that could be upgraded to four MGD. The final estimate for the project presented to the board – factoring Crewe and Burkeville's participation -stood at $24,879,000, though there were also estimated project indirect costs of $841,900.

Where the County goes from here and what, if any option is chosen on the water issue is unclear, but the water subject is not expected to dry up. Fore cited that it is “not a dead issue” just because they haven't put any emphasis on it.

“I think as soon as we nail this road down, we'll be talking about it,” he said, offering that it would be the first of the year.