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Bring down hookup fees, HCSA urged

SoVaNow.com / September 01, 2014




Two property developers are asking the Halifax County Service Authority to roll back water-sewer hookup fees to levels that were put in place when the authority was first formed.

John Cannon and Christian Roberts were among the speakers Thursday at the monthly meeting of the HCSA board, along with a third resident, Steve Salley, who complained about leaking sewage backing up on his property on Golf Course Road in Halifax.

HCSA directors said they would address each of the issues but took no immediate action Thursday.

Cannon and Roberts each told HCSA directors that the high cost of water-sewer connections is hampering the pace of new housing construction in Halifax County. They asked for a return to low rates that were grandfathered in for five years after the authority’s formation in 2007.

Currently, fees for new water-sewer connections start at $2,750 and can run as high as $26,400 depending on the size of the lines, according to the rate schedule posted on the HCSA’s website. (http://www.hcsa.us). The new fees became effective at the start of 2014.

Cannon asked that much-lower rates in place prior to 2014 be extended for another ten years.

He said he had not been building new homes over the past five years because of the weak state of the economy, but he is now beginning to add several homes and the cost of the connections looms as a big liability. Roberts said that he, too, is constructing new townhouses on Hamilton Boulevard and the facility fees are extremely costly.

Board Vice Chairman Coleman Speece, who conducted the meeting in the absence of Chairman Dexter Gilliam, asked the board’s Policy Committee to look into the request and bring back a recommendation at the September meeting.

The HCSA also addressed the complaint by Salley, who said the sewer leak at his home on Golf Course Road poses a health hazard.

Salley told directors that over the past several weeks, during periods of heavy rainfall, water had backed up on his property, causing sewage to leak into nearby streams and river. He noted that this was not the first time he has encountered sewage backups, terming it “an on-going problem.”

HCSA Director Mark Estes said his staff has been working to correct the overflow and is continuing to look for a permanent solution to Salley’s complaint.

In other business Thursday, the HCSA board agreed to seek a $45,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Health to cover the costs of engineering and technical assistance required to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the water source at Virginia International Raceway.

Levels of radium and flouride have fluctuated, causing concerns about water quality at the track.

Directors also received a report on the cost of developing a backup water source for the local system. HCSA officials have expressed a desire to establish an alternate supply to the Dan River after the Duke Energy coal ash spill earlier this year, and in the wake of requests by several North Carolina communities to withdraw water from the Dan.

The HCSA has been exploring the possibility of drawing water from the Banister River as a backup.

Engineers with Wiley Wilson presented two options for developing the Banister River as a water source. The first calls for construction of a new intake and raw water pump station located at the existing Banister Lake raw water intake site and running a raw water pipeline to the Leigh Street water treatment plant in South Boston. They estimated the cost of this plan at $4.5 to $5.5 million, to run the approximate 40,000 linear feet of a 12 inch pipeline. A 16 inch pipe line would cost an estimated $5.5 to $6.5 million.

A second option — not recommended by the engineers — would be to completely upgrade the shuttered Halifax water treatment plant, at a cost of $7.5 to $8.5 million.

The treatment plant was closed in 2007 with the formation of the authority by Halifax County, the Town of South Boston and the Town of Halifax.

HCSA officials are currently in preliminary discussions with both the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Tobacco Commission for possible funding for the project.



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