Sunday, December 20, 2020

Grant allows small Community to Connect to Public Water

Washington County Service Authority in southwest Virginia received an Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the U.S. EPA under the 2020 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) AQUARIUS RecognitionProgram.

Residents in the Rattle Creek Road Community using private wells and springs for their drinking water supply approached the Washington County Service Authority (WCSA) and asked to connect to their water system after experiencing years of diminished water quality as more residents moved in and the residents’ wells and springs tested positive for bacteria. The effort was begun by Laura Morrison, a longtime resident.

The Washington County Service Authority partnered with this disadvantaged community to plan and design a solution and assist in the search of funding options. The residents and Service Authority worked together to collect user agreements, water quality data, and other funding application information. Additionally, the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, which serves counties in southwest Virginia, assisted in the reviews for the Davis Bacon requirements. The Virginia Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Community Development Block Grant programs partnered with the Service Authority to fund this $420,000 project, which included the construction of 6,000 linear feet (LF) of water main, laterals and related appurtenances and provided drinking water to 15 homes and a church.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program paid for the construction of the water main, the Community Development Block Grant program paid for the installation of the laterals, service lines between the water meters and the homes , and the Service Authority funded the project planning and design. This project was completed in late 2019 and is was a great example of community engagement resulting in public health protection.

For 48 years, Laura Morrison and her husband, Roger, had relied on a spring to provide their home in the Rattle Creek Road community with water.

“The spring has supplied us well throughout the decades,” Mrs.Morrison said last year. “However, more people have moved into the community over the years and also draw from the spring, and we’ve also noticed that the water has become murkier when it rains and isn’t as good to drink.”

She went on: “Whenever the electricity goes out, so does the pump from the holding tank in our basement. We have to go to the spring or to a neighbor on the water system and fill up cans and buckets to use at our house. As we’ve gotten older, it’s become harder for us to deal with that.”

In late 2015, the Morrison family approached the Washington County Service Authority about the possibility of bringing water to the Rattle Creek Road community. Mrs. Morrison oversaw the process of getting paperwork to all of her neighbors who were also interested in being connected and returned those to the Service Authority, who then embarked on the long process of bacteriological testing of the water supplies for those residences, soliciting user agreements for a potential water line extension project to serve those homes, and applying for funding to support the project costs because the residents could not afford to pay for the extension of the Service Authority water mains and the lateral pipes for each home.

Following the completion of the Rattle Creek Water Line Extension Project earlier this year, 15 homes and a Chruch in the Rattle Creek Road community were connected to WCSA’s water service, providing them with clean and dependable access to clean drinking water for the very first time. This all started with Mrs. Morrison who sadly died this past spring, though not until after the project was completed. May her memory be a blessing. 

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