Public input sought on future ‘sewer areas’
|Go to the bottom of the page to find maps of all the proposed wastewater service areas in the county.|
Two town hall meetings are scheduled
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors has agreed to hold two town hall meetings to hear public opinion on future plans for county water and sewage services.
The meetings will be held on Tuesday, June 25, in the boardroom of the Historic Middlesex County Courthouse in Saluda, and Thursday, June 27, at the Deltaville Community Association (DCA) building in Deltaville. Both meetings will begin at 6 p.m.
Not to be confused with Sewer Districts, which under State Code have special taxing powers, the topic of discussion will be areas within the county where wastewater services would be deployed if offered, said county administrator Matt Walker.
Middlesex currently does not own or operate any public water or wastewater systems and seeks to partner with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) to provide wastewater services to various areas of the county, said Walker.
County staff has developed several proposed wastewater service areas that are aligned and consistent with the growth management objectives contained in the county’s comprehensive plan.
“The first step in this process is to decide whether or not sewer is wanted,” said Walker. “If it is, then the next question becomes ‘where?’ “
For Middlesex, the question of “where” was answered in 2009 when the comprehensive plan was updated to specify “growth areas” along with those areas that would remain rural.
“One of the driving motivators during the last comprehensive plan update was the desire to preserve the county’s rural character while promoting development within designated areas to diversify our tax base,” Walker said.
“Several commercial growth areas were identified in the plan after much debate, deliberation and compromise,” he said. “These were areas also identified to receive water and sewer services when made available in order to facilitate the development and expansion of these commercial areas.”
Improved technology has resulted in the State Health Department approving an increasing number of individual onsite treatment facilities and other alternatives to traditional septic systems. These systems are relatively costly to operate and maintain, and act as an inhibitor to business development or expansion, Walker explained.
“We hope that by designating wastewater service areas throughout the county, Middlesex can begin partnering with HRSD to determine answers to the last question, ‘How much will it cost to serve these areas?’
“Given what we know already that wastewater is not cheap, we may have to make some difficult choices balancing how much infrastructure to deploy versus cost,” he said.
Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend the town hall meetings and voice their opinions.
Also, supervisors will hold a public hearing on wastewater service areas at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, in the boardroom of the historic courthouse in Saluda.