James City supervisors to discuss water supply

tjefferson@vagazette.com

The county Board of Supervisors is scheduled to talk a lot about water on Tuesday — both taking it, and injecting it back into the ground.

The group will be briefed by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and the Department of Environmental Quality at its evening work session.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit this month allowing the county to draw up to 16.95 million gallons a day from the Chickahominy River at the county’s Chickahominy Riverfront Park.

“I think the water issue is close to being complete,” said County Administrator Bryan Hill.

The permit will allow the county to pull water from the southeast bank of the Chickahominy River and on the northwest peninsula of Chickahominy Riverfront Park.

Riverfront Park is close to an existing water pumping infrastructure, which would simplify building a water treatment plant and save money.

If the county pursues the plant, the project would cost about $120 million and be built between 2028 and 2032.

“My absolute hope is to have three alternative choices for the board for 2025,” Hill said. “In my view, we have three solid choices.”

The county is also pursuing plans with HRSD and the latter organization's Sustainable Water Initiative For Tomorrow program.

HRSD plans to take already highly treated wastewater that would otherwise be discharged into the Elizabeth, James or York rivers and purify it through additional rounds of advanced treatment to produce drinking-quality water, according to SWIFT's website.

The water would be treated to match the existing groundwater standards and added to the aquifer, the primary source of groundwater throughout eastern Virginia.

HRSD expects the earliest approvals for state and federal regulators for SWIFT are late 2018 or early 2019. The project is also expected to cost $1 billion, which would be paid for regionally by HRSD rate payers.

County supervisors will also have to decide by July 2018 if they want to continue contracting with Newport News Waterworks. If the county decides to continue with Newport News Waterworks, it will cost $33 million in 2019. The county would also have to spend $15 million to connect to the Newport News Waterworks lines.

James City Service Authority currently draws about 5.3 million gallons a day from its wells. The county expects the current extraction to increase with projected population increases in the coming years.

Work session

When: 4 p.m. Tuesday

Where: 101 Mounts Bay Road

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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