The Executive Director of
Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority
(RWSA) has asked area legislators to support legislation that will continue Virginia’s financial commitment to upgrade the Commonwealth’s wastewater treatment facilities. Tom Frederick told his Board of Directors that a continuance of the
Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund
is his top legislative priority.
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The upgrades are needed to eliminate pollutants from wastewater that would otherwise find their way into the Chesapeake Bay, and to protect rivers from excess nutrients. The Fund was set up to help localities pay for the capital costs so that states that border the Chesapeake Bay can satisfy stringent Environmental Protection Agency quality tests by 2010. Frederick said while there are many sources of pollution, Virginia is focusing on wastewater as a factor it can control. Others include air pollution, stormwater, and fertilizers.
The state has contributed $381.2 million dollars into the fund since 1999, but Frederick said that demand from water authorities across the state has meant that there’s not enough money for all applicants. Last year, the General Assembly authorized the sale of bonds to help finance the difference, which amounts to $177.3 million, but that authorization will lapse unless the legislature acts.
Frederick says he is concerned that with a state budget shortfall approaching $2 billion dollars over the next two years, legislators might use the bond revenue to finance other projects and to make up the deficit.
“We want to make sure that they don’t close that gap on the back of urban citizens through sewer rate charges,” Frederick said. “If this funding is now pulled, that means the urban citizens, those who live in the urban areas and depend on sewer service, are going to pay for something everybody’s going to benefit from.“
Albemarle County Executive Bob Tucker, who serves on the RWSA Board, said he would suggest that the Board of Supervisors adopt a resolution of support.
Also in his report to the Board, Frederick said he saw no reason to remove the area’s drought warning.
“Natural flows in the Sugar Hollow area remain critically low, and the risk continues that the Sugar Hollow Reservoir may not refill by April 2008,” Frederick said.