Thu12182014

Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

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County mulls in-lieu money for wetlands

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Appalachian Cherokees open museum and culture center

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County government takes lead in fight against water fee hikes

A Board of Supervisors December 2009 agenda item resulted in discussion of United Water Virginia’s State Corporation Commission application to more than double the fee it charges its water customers in Westmoreland subdivisions such as Glebe Harbor, Cabin Point, Ebb Tide Beach, Berkeley Beach and Potomac and Westmoreland Shores.
During the board’s December 2009 discussion, District 4 Supervisor Woody Hynson recalled prior county government and community efforts to fight United Water Virginia successors’ rate increase proposal and characterized the large company as a group of “water pirates.” All members of the Board agreed to oppose the fee increase proposal in 2010.
Last Tuesday the county government announced intentions to meet with Westmoreland’s United Virginia water customers on Jan. 20 in order to develop a strategy for fighting the proposal when the State Corporation Commission hears the question. County government later released the correspondence it sent last week to county subdivisions served by that provider.

“Westmoreland County has received notice of the general rate increase requested by United Water Virginia, Inc.,” wrote County Administrator Norm Risavi.
“The county would like to schedule a meeting with a designated representative of your community to discuss the possibility of a collective attempt to organize and fund an effort to limit the requested increase by the company.
“The county coordinated the previous undertaking approximately 12 years ago to protest the rate increase requested at that time.
“We have contacted the previous accountant who specializes in matters before the State Corporation Commission and an attorney whom he has jointly worked with to oppose rate increases in other parts of the commonwealth.
“We have scheduled a meeting for 7p.m. on Jan. 20 at the A.T. Johnson Alumni Museum, located at 18849 Kings Highway, Montross to hear a presentation by these two individuals on the procedures to  protest such an increase, as well as the projected cost to do so.
“Please contact my office to provide us with your representative’s name and contact information for future correspondence. Your prompt attention to this matter will be appreciated.”
As the battle over water fees progresses, United Water Virginia will be expected to maintain that it is seeking the rate increase in order to recover costs associated with improving or repairing its water system infrastructure. The proposed bi-monthly charge is $45.07 for basic service and $1.14 per gallon for usage in excess of the basic service unit.
United Water Virginia is owned by Virginia American Water (VAW) and VAW is the name on the application that is awaiting action by the State Corporation Commission. The most recent rate increase occurred in 1997. That action followed a prior owner’s failed effort to substantially increase fees in 1992.
Busloads of unhappy customers from Westmoreland County and other Virginia jurisdictions participated in that generation of State Corporation Commission deliberations and prevailed.
“They’re a bunch of pirates,” Hynson commented during the December meeting of the Westmoreland County Board.
“And it’s up to us to meet with the public and find out how they feel,” Supervisor Russ Culver replied.
“It’s always so nice when you live on a farm and drink well water,” Supervisor Darryl Fisher interjected.
Hynson and Culver live in subdivisions and Fisher lives on a property he routinely describes as a country farm.
It has been estimated that United Water Virginia and its Virginia American Water owners have as many as 5,000 Westmoreland County customers.

 Betsy Ficklin
The Journal

 

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