PALMYRA — The proposed water deal between Fluvanna and Aqua Virginia is done as the two sides have come to an impasse.
The deal had legal concerns that were to be worked on since the public hearing in September. The deadline to remedy the issues was Oct. 2. Instead of announcing a final deal in place, both sides announced talks have mutually ended.
Sources close to the agreements believe the sides were very close and were able to overcome many legal obstacles. There was much desire for both sides to work out a deal because of the economic impacts.
Fluvanna was looking at the opportunity to supply water to the Zion Crossroads area without having to build and maintain the main infrastructure. The most valuable part was the county’s only withdrawal permit is for the James River, across the county. The cost of building just a treatment plant to is higher than paying the Aqua deal for 20 years.
Using Aqua’s proposal of 500,000 gallons per day of drinkable water also would put Fluvanna on state economic development lists, encouraging businesses to move to the county. The reasoning of bring water to Zion Crossroads was to diversify the tax base with commercial payers.
The Aqua proposal would allow the company to allocated unused portions of its current withdrawal permit. The current plant at Lake Monticello would not need expansion but adding Fluvanna as a customer would help defray the costs current Aqua customers bear alone.
At the regularly schedule meeting on Oct. 2, supervisors announced the deal was no longer being discussed. Aqua Virginia issued a press release late Wednesday night that confirmed the stalemate but left hope of a possible deal in the future.
“Together, we tried to come to an economically and environmentally friendly agreement with the county that would make this plan beneficial to everyone,” said Shannon V. Becker, president of Aqua Virginia, in the statement.
“Although we couldn’t finalize the terms of an agreement at this time, if asked, we would look forward to an opportunity to provide a viable solution to this need in the future.”
From here the supervisors can vote to reject the deal and likely would if needed. Technically, the supervisors can only vote to approve the deal 30 days after the public hearing that was held on Sept. 18. The chances of that occurring are approaching zero.
Aqua’s full press release:
Rockville, VA – Aqua Virginia, Inc. (Aqua) announced today that the company and the Fluvanna County board of supervisors have mutually agreed to end negotiations on Aqua’s proposal to provide water service to the Zion Crossroads area.
The county’s board of supervisors issued a letter in May 2011 that asked Aqua to submit a proposal to bring water and sewer service to the Zion Crossroads area to help boost economic growth, create new jobs and develop a stronger commercial tax base. Aqua submitted a proposal under the strict guidelines of the Public-Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act to build a pipeline designed to supply drinking water from its nearby Lake Monticello system. Revenue generated by the bulk water sale to Zion Crossroads would also have helped defray some of the costs of service to existing customers in Aqua’s regulated water systems.
“Aqua has worked hard on this project with Fluvanna County for several years, and we believe our
proposal offers the best option to bring vital water service at a volume that could enable this promising area to grow and thrive,” said Shannon V. Becker, president of Aqua Virginia. “Aqua serves tens of thousands of people throughout the commonwealth, and we have the resources and expertise necessary to make the Zion Crossroads project a reality.” Becker also noted that new economic development could alleviate the area’s primarily residential tax burden by encouraging commercial growth.
“Together, we tried to come to an economically and environmentally friendly agreement with the county that would make this plan beneficial to everyone,” said Becker. “Although we couldn’t finalize the terms of an agreement at this time, if asked, we would look forward to an opportunity to provide a viable solution to this need in the future.”
Aqua owns and operates Fluvanna County’s Lake Monticello drinking water and wastewater systems, which serve about 11,000 people in this community near Charlottesville. Since acquiring the systems in 2003, Aqua has spent more than $5 million on improvements to the water treatment plant and distribution system and nearly $16 million on improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and collection system. Aqua’s Lake Monticello water treatment plant has received the waterworks performance award from the state Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water for seven years in a row. Aqua provides water and wastewater service to approximately 75,000 residents in 165 communities in 34 counties across Virginia. More information is available at www.aquaamerica.com.