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The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors took a step on May 16 to bring water - and hopefully economic development - to Zion Crossroads.

The board accepted a letter of proposal from Aqua Virginia to build a pipeline from its existing facility near Lake Monticello north to the intersection of Rts. 250 and 15.

On the agenda for the June 6 meeting will be the issuance of a request for proposals so other companies can get in on the act.

Chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia) said Aqua Virginia hand-delivered the unsolicited letter to the board on March 16. The letter stated that the water system will cost approximately $9,061,341, and that the sewer system will cost approximately $900,000.

Kenney said his main priority is to get water to Zion Crossroads to stimulate economic development and to make sure the cost of the pipeline does not “impact Fluvanna taxpayers.”

“Louisa needs water to finish Zion Crossroads and they are looking to buy from us,” Kenney said. “What we need to know is how does it want to buy and at what price. Both Louisa and Fluvanna boards authorized county staff to initiate conversations on the matter.”

There have been talks of a water pipeline to the area for years, said Supervisor Mozell Booker (Fork Union) who serves on the water committee with Joe Chesser (Rivanna).

Booker said building the new high school and the economic collapse in 2008 were part of the reasons the plans didn’t come to fruition.

Several taxpayers questioned those plans, almost bringing up a referendum on the matter.

But Booker shares Kenney’s enthusiasm that new talks will bring the pipeline to fruition.

“I feel really good about it,” she said. “We’re going to try to be expedient, careful and do it in the right way.”

Booker said there will be a community gathering at the “end of June” to talk to the public about the project.

“We are trying to make sure to keep the taxpayer out of financing it for a period of time,” Booker said.

Both she and Kenney said water could be to Zion Crossroads in as little as 18 months.

While that may be the goal, the letter from Aqua Virginia states what everyone knows, especially after such a contentious budget process: “Currently, it is our understanding that neither the County capital improvements budget, nor any other government spending plan will provide for the implementation of this needed water and sewer infrastructure.”

Throughout the proposal is the line “Aqua has no financing contingency for this project.”

The Department of Corrections is a key player in pipeline talks with the women’s prison being a potential water customer, Kenney said.

However, no formal talks have been held with them as of yet, Booker said.

Kenney said they’ve had very positive “nibbles” from businesses of all shapes and sizes about building at Zion Crossroads.

The Aqua Virginia letter puts into print what Kenney and Booker are hoping for – community support.

It states: “It is anticipated that area property owners should strongly support the project in light of the fact that it will provide significant economic development opportunities for all the properties in the area through the provision of a reliable water and wastewater system. In addition, the State should be quite supportive due to the benefits accruing to the local DOC facility. At the present time, we are not aware of any opposition to the proposed project.”

Kenney said the time – and the timing – of the project is key.

“Time is the one commodity we can’t get back,” he said. “Everybody seems to be coming to an ‘Aha’ moment. The opportunity is there. The economy is coming back. We’re really seeing a golden opportunity approach us and until very recently we’ve been unable to respond positively. The question is whether we’ll sit another 10 years and watch the 21st century pass us by.”

Sidebar

Aqua Virginia letter


Aqua Virginia’s letter of proposal to the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors was 12 pages long and listed exactly how the company would build a water pipeline to Zion Crossroads.

The letter proposed that:

  • The Department of Corrections (at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women) will be the initial customer using about 120,000 gallons per day;
  • An Aqua affiliated company will design, permit, construct, own, operate and maintain the water system at its sole cost and expense;
  • Fluvanna County will establish water connection fees and rates and collect the money;
  • The water system will have a capacity of 500,000 gallons per day;
  • Aqua will pay for the approximate $9 million project and will operate it;
  • The county will pay $950,000 per year for the water system plus an additional cost depending on usage;
  • Aqua will build and operate a sewer collection system estimated to cost about $900,000 which will discharge to a treatment facility at the women’s prison;
  • The county will pay about $95,000 a year for the sewer usage with extra cost depending on usage.