Gentlemen (and ladies), start your plumbers.
If this week’s initial state-required five-day test goes well, and it doesn’t seriously snow or flood in the interim, the Town of Washington’s $4 million wastewater collection and treatment system could be up and running by early April. That was the news from the Washington Town Council’s regular meeting Monday night.
“I’m hoping it will be within the next 30 days,” said Councilman Gary Schwartz.
If the plant passes its five-day test this week – which is conducted with plain old water substituted for the system’s eventual contents — the town can then apply for a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit to operate the plant
Sometime after that, and completion of grading and minor construction at the treatment plant, the town will hook up to the system its first and largest customers, the Inn at Little Washington and the county jail — roughly situated at opposite ends of town, geographically and otherwise.
Homeowners and businesses in town will also be encouraged at that point to contact their electrical and plumbing contractors to connect their homes to the grinder pumps installed at nearly 100 properties in town last year.
Meanwhile, the council voted Monday to authorize Mayor Eugene Leggett to sign the agreement with the state DEQ that essentially gives the town a $489,500 grant to discharge a cleaner-than-planned outflow from the treatment plant.
Town Attorney John Bennett reported to the council that he was told that any money the town receives from DEQ must be used to pay down the $4 million loan. Hookup and usage fees were long-ago planned to make the loan payments, so the bottom line — that, as Councilman John Sullivan put it in December — “is that the town is ahead of the game.”
In other action, the council had another in a series of long discussions – their length mostly a testimony to the rarity of cheap real estate ever becoming available around Little Washington — about the possibility of purchasing a three-acre tract from VDOT just beyond the town border on Fodderstack Road.
VDOT’s former storage site has so many unknowns surrounding it – how much might have to be spent on further environmental cleanup, which VDOT says it has already done, and whether the property encroaches on a cemetery or a church right of way – that the council decided not to make an offer to VDOT.
They decided to ask VDOT to give the property to the town, and see if negotiations can proceed from that point.
Councilman Patrick O’Connell’s motion, which the council passed (with Councilwoman Alice Butler abstaining), was to “send a letter to VDOT inviting them to give us the property – without obligating us to accept it.”