Isle of Wight offers to buy Smithfield water plant

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2007

SMITHFIELD— Isle of Wight County officials offered to purchase Smithfield’s water system, thus creating one water supplier for most of the county.

It was an unexpected move at Tuesday’s Intergovernmental Committee meeting with the Town of Smithfield.

&uot;I was completely surprised,&uot; said Smithfield Town Manager Peter Stephenson.

This came out of the blue.

We had no idea the county was even considering such a move.&uot;

Tom Ivy, chairman of the IOW Board of Supervisors, offered the proposal and said the venture would benefit both the town and the county.

&uot;The county would come in and purchase the water system from the town n the town would then be out of the water business.&uot;

Once this transpires, according to the proposal, the county would then be responsible for supplying all existing and future water needs of the town, as well as any future costs associated with the water system repairs and replacements.

Another advantage, as per the proposal, would be the county’s responsibility to insure fluoride compliance according to the consent order between the town and the State Department of Health.

This would mean the town would not have to bear the cost of building a multimillion-dollar reverse osmosis water treatment plant required to remove excess fluoride from the town’s drinking water.

The county would supply the town with water through the Western Tidewater Water Authority (WTWA), which the county formed with Suffolk many years ago.

Under the agreement, the county is allowed to withdraw a certain number of gallons of water per day and this must be paid for whether or not it is used.

According to Don Robertson, Communications Director for the county, the WTWA has an excess of water at this time — in fact, it actually has more water than it has customers.

&uot;Since the Town of Smithfield is rapidly approaching its full capacity, the county has proposed buying the Smithfield system to help increase its customer base,&uot; he said.