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Water authority takes $10,000 hit from extra treatment / February 24, 2014

The Halifax County Service Authority has incurred additional costs of around $10,000 as a result of the coal ash spill into the Dan River this month.

The estimate, from HCSA executive director Mark Estes, came out during a meeting Thursday of the authority’s board of directors. Estes said the costs were mostly for staff overtime and for the extra chemicals required to treat raw water from the Dan at the height of the Feb. 2 spill.

HCSA directors were joined at their meeting Thursday by officials with the Virginia Department of Health, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

With last Thursday marking Day 17 since the coal ash spill in Eden, N.C., at the Duke Energy-owned Dan River Steam Station, state officials were questioned by Authority members about several aspects of the disaster.

Coleman Speece, who asked about the costs incurred by the authority, also wanted to know if the HCSA’s water treatment plant in the Dan might sustain any harm to its equipment from the spill.

HCSA chairman Dexter Gilliam asked how long authorities will continue to test water quality along the 70-mile stretch of the Dan where coal ash has been found in the water. He also asked about the effect that a heavy rain storm may have on the river, which serves as the source of drinking water for Danville, South Boston and Clarksville.

Director Joe Barkley wanted to know if there was a back-up plan for a different water source if at any point the HCSA needs to switch off from the Dan. He raised the potential for using water from the Banister River as a back-up resource.

State representatives, who attended the HCSA session prior to a Thursday night town hall meeting in South Boston, offered assurances that they will continue their testing and report back to the community for an indefinite period.

In other business Thursday afternoon, HCSA members approved an amendment to their engineering services agreement for the facilities study with Draper Aden. The amendment calls for the use of a truncated system model for the South Boston and Halifax sewer systems which Gary McCollum of Draper Aden estimated to cost $26,000 if HCSA employees could carry out the field work necessary to building the model. McCollum pointed out to HCSA trustees that currently the town of Halifax has no model for its sewer system, while that of South Boston is very incomplete. The amendment will be added to the original facilities plan agreement between HCSA and Draper Aden approved on March 21, 2013.

Reviewing on-going projects, Estes reported that weather conditions had once again slowed the Maple Avenue wastewater project which now is expected to be completed by May 30. He also said the Cowford Road project, where the size of piping for the conversion of the wastewater treatment plant is needed to insure a design for growth of both Halifax wastewater and industrial needs of the Sinai industrial park, will take another 90 days.

Also the bid opening for the Webb Park sewer relocation project will take place on March 6.

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