A sample resolution that will enable Accomack County incorporated towns to join the proposed plan to join the Hampton Roads Sewage Disposal District has been sent out. Towns can choose to opt in or opt out of the plan which it is hoped will eventually provide sewage disposal services for parts of the Eastern Shore. Towns can either notify the county of their intentions to opt in or out of the plan. If any town does not act they will be included in a petition to the circuit court that the county will file in early 2020. Towns that are included in the initial petition can opt out if they so choose at a public hearing on the issue that will be scheduled in the future.
Towns that opt in will not be required to eventually construct a sewage collection system unless they choose to do so. Opting in at this time will save towns money because they are joining the county in petitioning the court. Towns that opt out could be considered to join the system at a later date but would have to bear the cost of petitioning the court on their own. At this point, opting into the system will simply give incorporated towns the option to receive future service should they choose to do so.
There are three phases proposed for the roll out of the system. The first would connect the Onancock treatment facility to customers south to Nassawadox, Phase 2 would connect areas south of Nassawadox to the Cape Charles treatment facility. Phase 3 will include Chincoteague and Wallops. The initial pipe installation will be placed on the railroad right of way to the south.
While it isn’t certain which towns on the northern end of Accomack County will be able to receive service, opting in would make the option available to future town councils if they so desire.
Concerns have been raised by many that stricter health department regulations on replacing failing drain fields with above ground systems that can cost as much as $28,000 would be a financial burden that some residents would not be able to bear.
Any local town or sewage collection area that seeks to build a system will have to hold public hearings before work can begin. Local residents will have every opportunity to participate in the process and let their opinions be known.
Both Accomack and Northampton counties are involved in the project. Committee members hope that joining the HRSD will eventually take the counties and towns out of the sewage disposal business. Should the plan move forward, HRSD would assume the operation of the Onancock Sewage plant and be responsible for it’s upkeep and operation going forward. It is hoped that access to the sewage system would encourage businesses to locate here providing jobs along with allowing the development of more affordable housing.