- Published on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 20:46
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The $5,631,600.00 Glebe Harbor, Tidwells and Drum Bay sewer project received a boost when county, state and federal officials met a second time with prospective customers. County Administrator Norm Risavi this week expressed new confidence that the wastewater collection system’s 450-customer threshold will be surpassed prior to the November 16deadline.
A reporter’s review early this week of the set of maps identifying properties where connections already have been bought was inconclusive. The maps that will eventually be made available for viewing on the Westmoreland County internet web site had not been updated to reflect the most recent connection fee purchases.
Prospective customers were initially given until July 27 to purchase the connections at a cost of $3,000 per tap. Service area residents were advised that connection costs would rise substantially if land owners opted to wait for privately maintained septic facilities to fail.
When the initial July 27 deadline passed with the sale of a mere 122 connections, public officials regrouped, refusing to allow the project to stall.
The Westmoreland Supervisors convened a second informational meeting with service area residents on September 15. During that session, the project engineer and state and federal government officials delivered briefings advising of the dire consequences that would result if the collection system is not installed.
Virginia Health Department warned residents that the bar will be raised and raised again, eventually making it impossible for nonparticipating homeowners to comply with ever more exacting water quality discharge regulations. Costs associated with operation of private wastewater systems would become prohibitive and in a worst scenario, the county could compel homeowners to connect.
The project’s U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development finance agency presented a similarly grim scenario on September 15, advising that federal funds are becoming increasingly scarce.
“USDA Rural Development has an uncertain Future,” service area residents were told on September 5. “Waiting for another time might not be a wise decision. It will mean starting at the bottom of the pile again. Also, interest rates have already started going back up.”
The interest on the currently contemplated 40-year $5,631,600.00 loan is 2 percent. An application placed later than September 30 with Rural Development would necessarily reflect the 2010 census’s higher median household income values, resulting in a higher interest rate.
The federal agency’s concluding statement was even more daunting. Prospective sewer customers were advised that, “given the current economic situation, it does not look like federal programs will will offer grant opportunities like the past. “This is what smaller government looks like.”
Other Westmoreland sewer projects financed by Rural Development included a grant component. Costs of connections and monthly user fees were lower than the wastewater collection project that is currently proposed.
The Glebe Harbor, Tidwells and Drum Bay project will terminate at the Coles Point wastewater treatment plant. Following completion of that collection system, the county will launch a final project to add homes in Cabin Point, King Copsico and Bushfield subdivisions and neighborhoods fronted by Mount Holly, Plunk Town and Erica roads to the jurisdiction’s final wastewater collection project.