Berryville’s Town Council Streets and Utilities committee entered closed session yesterday to consult with legal counsel, staff and consultants concerning probable litigation related to the wastewater treatment project.
Council members and staff would not disclose details about the pending litigation or about who the litigation could involve, however, in March, 2010 the Town Council voted unanimously to award R.L. Rider & Co. of Warrenton with the outfall line contract and selected Caldwell & Santmyer, Inc. of Berryville to build the wastewater treatment facility.
The current wastewater treatment facility was originally constructed in 1936 and was upgraded in 1958 and again in 1969. The current $21.8M new wastewater treatment plant project and additional $1.3M wastewater outfall line will discharge treated effluent into the Shenandoah River. The project funding was made possible through a $11.75M loan guarantee from the Virginia Resources Authority and a $12.1M grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
David Tyrrell, Director of Utilities said that the current outfall line construction is approximately 50% complete. Outfall construction crews have also completed the headwall and a riprap wall where the line terminates below the Route 7 Shenandoah River Bridge. Old bridge abutments encountered during the trenching process will soon be removed by the contractor.
Tyrell also said that hydro-seeding has been applied where the outfall excavation has already been completed to prevent erosion but will probably have to be re-applied in the future due to the unusually dry conditions this summer.
The wastewater treatment facility is expected to be substantially completed by early 2012. Whether or not the Town’s potential litigation will impact the construction schedule was not discussed.
Reduced Water Rates for Seniors?
During the meeting Battlefield Estates developer Alton Echols presented the committee with a zoning proposal that he said could generate new housing demand in Berryville despite the down economy.
Echols told the committee that “senior households”, home owners over the age of 55 years, use approximately half of the water and sewer services of a family with two adults and two children. Echol’s suggested that the Town establish a separate, lower water and sewer rate applicable to seniors to recognize the lower resource usage.
“It may be desirable from the Town’s viewpoint to increase the number of water taps that you can sell” Echols said. “Seniors are using half or less than families. The lower rate can be applied to age restricted areas.”
Echols told the committee that Berryville already has established zoning for seniors under the “OPR” designation.
Echols said that while the overall housing market in the Northern Virginia area was still depressed, he believes that seniors are still willing to purchase homes designed to meet their needs. He sees the favorable water and sewer rates as a way to spur such development within Berryville.
Echols said that seniors are still willing to purchase a one-story home that can accommodate their retirement needs prior to entering nursing home care and that he understands the requirements needed to attract new residents to Berryville.
“I want to design the best senior house that there is” Echols said.
Time to Change the Flocculator Again
Large scale water treatment processes use a process called “flocculation” whereby small particles suspended in wastewater are collected into larger particles so that their weight causes settling to the bottom of a treatment tank. The resulting clear water is then be passed through ultraviolet light for further purification.
One of the flocculator devices used in Berryivlle’s wastewater treatment process has stopped functioning and needs replacement. Town officials estimate that the replacement cost will be $45K with an additional $8K – $10k for installation.
“We originally considered doing the installation with in-house staff but also want to look at using an outside installer” said David Tyrrell, Director of Utilities. “It may be preferable to use a professionally certified company to ensure that the warranty on the device isn’t voided.”
The faulty flocculator was installed in 1984.
Mayor Wilson Kirby recommended that the proposal be forwarded to the Town Council for consideration and approval.
In addition to the flocculator replacement, Tyrell is also recommending a new 250 KW generator for the water treatment facility.
Utility Pole Removal on Smithy Lane
Electrical improvements required to support the Barns of Rose Hill may allow the Town Of Berryville to improve the visual aesthetics associated with Smithy Lane along the rear boundary of Rose Hill Park.
Town Manager Keith Dalton said that by locating a larger transformer near the southeast corner of the Barns of Rose Hill it may be possible to eliminate two utility poles that will no longer be necessary to supply power to Smithy Cottage.
Treatment Plant Site Visit
After the Friday afternoo meeting, Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby, Town Manager Keith Dalton and David Tyrrell visited the wastewater treatment plant site to assess the project’s progress.
The visit showed substantial progress toward the 2012 commissioning of the plant.
Concrete forms and portions of the sludge holding tank walls are already in place. Additionally, a large pit has been excavated and grouting foundations are in place to support the biological holding tanks.
When the plant is completed raw sewage will enter the headworks where it will be screened and grit removed. Next the sewage will enter an activated sludge biological process where approximately 99.5% of pollutants will be removed. The resulting water then will pass through a membrane filter system before being disinfected by ultra violet lights and released into the outfall line for discharge into the Shenandoah River.
The resulting biological solids will be “pressed” to remove fluids before being discarded either as coverage for sanitary landfills or application to farm land provided that land does not produce crops consumed directly by humans.
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