This week we will be looking at issues concerning the proposed partnership with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and both counties. We will attempt to break down various questions about the proposal and shed light on the true nature of the project.
What is the Hampton Roads Sanitation District?
The Hampton Roads Sanitation District was created by the General Assembly as a non profit organization. Its purpose it to consolidate the collection and treatment of sewage effluent. It was designed to take the individual localities out of the sewage treatment business. The HRSD currently serves all of the Hampton Roads cities and extends northward to Matthews and Middlesex counties on the middle peninsula.
The advantages of the HRSD are many to the participating localities. First, as stated, the localities are no longer required to purchase and maintain sewage treatment plants. All aspects of operation including upgrades and maintenance will be assumed by HRSD Furthermore the HRSD also has a staff which is very and experienced in all aspects of collection and treatment. The HRSD has resources and expertise unavailable to many localities. Furthermore the cost of maintenance is spread among over 500,000 current HRSD users.
For instance, if Onancock opts to surrender control over their sewage treatment plant, they will not be liable for any failures or future maintenance expenses to the facility. That would fall to the HRSD to maintain and upgrade the facility as needed and not the taxpayers of the town of Onancock. Also Onancock will not be held liable should such a failure result in pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
The current rate paid by customers of the county sewage line is in excess of $20 per 1000 gallons of water treated. The rate charged by the HRSD will be around $15 per 1000 gallons resulting in an immediate savings to current users.
Why should either county consider this project?
One of the critical issues facing both Accomack and Northampton Counties is our ability to provide central sewage to any business that may want to locate here. This, along with more stringent drain field regulations by the State Department of Health make building and maintaining individual drain fields far more expensive than in the past. The collection and treatment of sewage will open the door to more businesses to provide jobs and benefits. It would also make it more likely that clusters of affordable housing could be constructed in certain areas of each county.
Would individual customers be able to hook up to the HRSD pipe?
Individual customers will not be able to connect directly to the HRSD system. The system can be accessed by present or future sewage collection systems which currently exist in Onancock, Exmore and Nassawadox. Should a town along the pipeline wish to gain service, the town itself would have to pay to build a sewage system to collect the waste water and then access the main HRSD system. This would be a local decision and town citizens would have every opportunity for input and information from their town governments.
However hooking up to the HRSD would be far less expensive to individual towns than having to buy and operate individual sewage treatment facilities.
Will anyone be forced to hook up to the main system?
This would only occur if your locality decides it needs to charge a hook up fee. HRSD will not control that aspect. Decisions on hook up fees will be left to either the county for unincorporated areas or the individual towns.