New High School Gets First Water Bill and It’s a Doozy!

Berryville homeowners concerned about water and sewer hookup rates may think twice before complaining when compared to charges being paid by the Clarke County School Board for the new high school.

“The charge is not unexpected, and was foreseen in the project budget, as it is the standard fee as per Town ordinance,” said School Board member and authorized owner’s representative (AOR) for the new high school.

On Monday night, the Clarke County School Board authorized payment to the Town of Berryville of $42K for a two-inch water meter hookup and $182K for sewer availability. The $224K payment is computed based upon the size of the water meter.

The larger the water the meter, the higher the fee.

Water, particularly fire flow and easement considerations, have been a thorny issue between the Town of Berryville and the School Board throughout the construction project. Bouffault said that the Town has profited from the school construction project in a number of ways.

“We are paying 50% of the upgrade to their waterworks, including but not limited to the bigger pumps for fire flow,” Bouffault said. According to Bouffault, the $250K fire flow charge has allowed the Town to upgrade its entire system including a new generator and electronic water distribution control system.

“We have paid to have the water line moved, with an entirely new line connecting the reservoir to the Town’s system. The old one has been de-commissioned. Our cost is difficult to determine as it is integrated into the global project, however given their site work and plumbing costs, I would estimate between $100K and $150K.”

Bouffault said that the School Board also provided a sewer easement from the Town’s waterworks so that it can connect to the new sewer line installed for the high school. The new eight-inch sewer line will be accessed via a manhole located near the front entrance of the school.

“No cost to us, just the easement,” Bouffault said.

Despite all of the benefit to the town from the school project, Bouffault said that the school was still required to pay the standard rate for its utility hookup.

“We would of course have appreciated some consideration for our helping to pay for the town’s waterworks upgrade, which not only guarantees our fire flow, but that of  the entire community in that area – including Food Lion.” Bouffault said.

So the School Board’s recent decision to find alternate water sources for the school playing field irrigation system probably came as little surprise to Town officials. Bouffault said that the decision to look for less costly water sources simply made good economic sense.

“The Town was concerned about our having a water well – although what would be needed to convert it from a non-potable source to a well capable of handling such a large school is considerable and is not currently contemplated,” Bouffault said.  “What they might not like, is the fact that they will not be receiving water fees for all that water used for physical education field irrigation and greenhouse purposes. We have determined that the cost of the well, including the energy needed for it, will pay for itself very rapidly when looking at the Town’s water fees.”

Bouffault said the construction of the town’s new waste water treatment plant (WWTP), which coincided with the selection of the new high school site within town limits probably played a role in the town’s decision to establish increased utility hook-up fees.

“Unfortunately, the high hook-up fees, when established by the Town in 2008, I believe were done with the view that the cost of the WWTP was increasing and the Town was trying to figure out a way to pay for it,” Bouffault said.

Berryville town manager Keith Dalton, away on vacation for the week, was unavailable for comment.

Comments

  1. Stonebroke says:

    Speaking of water, How long does it take for the water to drain out of the drainage pond? That water has been lying in there for a week! What is the deal with that? Can someone find an answer to that?

    • Mary L. C. Daniel says:

      Christy Dunkle at the Town Planning office can tell you the specifics (540-955-1099). My inexpert summary: The pond closest to the construction site drains more slowly because of erosion and sediment control requirements. The water has to drain more slowly to allow the solids to sink down. It is not a permanent setup – construction sites have a different requirement than the finished site will have.

    • Mr Mister says:

      This is another fine example of when homeowners and teachers think they know more than engineers and architects just like over at the school site. All installations have to comply with certain requirements that we may not be aware of.

      • Wow…your cynicism is rather misguided. Only 1 of the School Board members is a teacher, and she’s not the one who speaks for the school construction. That would be Mme. Bouffault, who touted her “extensive” experience managing a concrete business and being a retail property owner as reasons why she was suited to oversee this construction project. No need to take an undue swipe at “teachers.”

        • Mr Mister says:

          I wasn’t taking a swipe at the School Board members at all. I was referring to another thread where you say that teachers know better than the engineers and architects on toilet heights for young children. Let the paid professionals do their job and not focus on wish list items. Unless you ,yourself knows all of the requirements.

  2. Because I Care says:

    For sure! That standing water is a health hazard and a great mosquito factory!

  3. Reading this does not make me feel any better about the amount of money I pay for the small amount of water I use.

  4. LuckyMan says:

    The water rates in Berryville are ridiculous..not to mention the cut off dates if you don’t pay timely..the town has no heart….