Town's Impoundment Bill Dammed In House

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

FARMVILLE – A bill that would give the Town of Farmville the right, without permission, to release water from Mottley Lake into the Appomattox River has come up dry in the General Assembly.

Delegate James Edmunds II introduced HB 2185, which would allow Farmville to release water from Mottley Lake into the Appomattox River without County or state permission, granting an exemption to state law for “an existing water system purchased by a town and located in the county in which the impoundment facility is totally or partially located, or for the orderly expansion of such water supply system.”

The Town purchased Mottley Lake to maintain a sufficient flow of water to its water treatment plant downstream during times of severe drought, but legislators are apparently leery of the legislation's potential statewide impact.

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The proposed legislation barely trickled through the House and has now puddled in subcommittee. Assigned to the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns on January 9, it was referred to a sub-committee on January 18, and has remained there, a victim of political inaction.

Crossover was Tuesday (yesterday) and to reach the Senate a House bill must first make it out of subcommittee, then win approval by full committee before being approved by a full vote by the House of Delegates.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the legislation had still not come out of the House subcommittee.

Without the exemption, state law requires that the Town receive the County's permission and then approval from the Department of Environmental Quality. Like all bodies of water in Virginia, Mottley Lake is considered to be “waters of the state.”

Prince Edward County granted that permission last summer, through the end of last year, and the Town has asked for a two-year extension of that approval, hedging its bet in case HB 2185 went down to defeat.

State Code section 15.2-5122 currently states, “No locality or authority shall construct, provide or operate outside its boundaries any water supply impoundment system without first obtaining the consent of the governing body of the locality in which such system is located.”

Del. Edmunds' legislation sought to grant an exemption for cases such as the one involving Mottley Lake, owned by the Town but located in the county.