- Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 16:09
- Published on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 16:09
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It became official when the office of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine issued the announcement Monday morning: $890,000 has been released to support an early stage of Westmoreland County’s Tidwells-Drum Bay sewer project.
The sewer project is part of $1 billion allocated for nearly 250 infrastructure projects across the state as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“These projects are beginning at a time when we are facing a national economic crisis, and they are putting Virginians to work,” Kaine said. “The projects also will pay long-term dividends to all of us, in the form of improved bridges and highways, railways and other transit, sewage treatment and drinking water.” According to the announcement, Virginia expects “to receive about $4.8 billion from the Recovery Act. Individuals, private organizations and businesses, and local governments are also eligible for additional Recovery Act funding. As more Recovery Act funds are allocated, more jobs and improvements are expected statewide."
Of the ARRA funds, $116 million is being released at this time to replace or repair Virginia bridges. Although hearings are in the works to address the replacement of the Tides Mill Bridge on state Route 205, District 4 Supervisor Woody Hynson lamented during last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that there is no help in sight for replacing the equally decrepit Mattox Creek Bridge on state Route 205.
The only Recovery Act funds directed to Westmoreland in this week’s disclosure from the office of the Virginia Governor is the $890,000 to support the Tidwells-Drum Bay sewer.
The Governor’s disclosure describes the nature of the “Tidwells/Drum Bay Spray Irrigation/Water Reuse” project as belonging to the “Clean Water – Green” category.
Another allocation of $2,286,000 will bring road pavement preservation and restoration to portions of state Routes 3 and 360 in Lancaster, Northumberland and Richmond counties.
Caroline County is allocated $2.6 million to improve bridges, and the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula regions’ Bay Aging Transit will receive $396,000 to improve its rural transit program.
Westmoreland County Administrator Norman Risavi had prior knowledge of the governor’s July 20 announcements when he gained approval from the Westmoreland Supervisors to put the Tidwells-Drum Bay project out for bids.
“The board authorized the county administrator to enter into the appropriate agreements on behalf of the county to accept FY 2009 Federal Stimulus Funds in the form of a loan from the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund Program in the amount of $890,000 (with 100% principal forgiveness) for the purpose of completing certain upgrades to the Coles Point Wastewater Plant, including construction of a new effluent storage tank and modification of the spray field pumping system, and following approval of the bid by the state, to prepare and advertise a bid solicitation for this project, with the understanding that the results of said bids will be presented to the board for approval.
“[District 2 Supervisor Russ] Culver clarified that this is not related to the proposed Drum Bay-Tidwells sewer project.”
The Tidwells-Drum Bay sewer project came under fire earlier this year, when the supervisors received a petition signed by Tidwells homeowners who oppose introduction of public sewer facilities in that rural community.
Opponents cite unpopular and failed residential subdivision projects that were introduced in the village of Coles Point once public sewer system became available.
County officials say they plan to obtain additional funding to install sewerage collection lines that will connect Tidwells and Drum Bay homes to the Coles Point wastewater treatment plant.
Tidwells sewer proponents expect to profit from the new infrastructure. Waterfront land that was only marginally capable of supporting conventional septic drainfields can become home to condominiums and other high-density residential developments.
The landowners on the Tidwells waterfront who saw the system coming and already invested in waterfront properties that were offered for sale in recent years expect to profit from the infusion of Recovery Act funding the county’s elected officials hope to use to support the project.
However, County Administrator Norman Risavi said it’s unlikely the project will result in creation of local employment opportunities. Outside contractors will utilize employees who already have mastered the skills the project’s construction phase requires.
Sewer lines will cross Lower Machodoc Creek in order to reach the Coles Point treatment plant. The facility’s liquid effluent is applied in nearby fields in order to avoid creation of a discharge point in the Potomac tributary that still supports multiple economically viable commercial fisheries.
Despite assertions that no sewer is needed to support the current Tidwells community and that problems associated with the sparsely settled neighborhood’s small number of failing septic drain fields can be remedied with new technologies, Risavi has advised that lines connecting Tidwells to the Coles Point plant must be in place before help can be offered to residents of the densely populated Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point neighborhoods.
— Betsy Ficklin