Sewage treatment system plan moves ahead

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

COURTLAND—Recent financing and land purchase decisions pave the way for construction to begin soon on a new sewage treatment system that will replace and expand the existing Courtland Wastewater Treatment System.

Southampton County’s Board of Supervisors voted Monday to open a $4 million line of credit for short-term financing of the $26.6 million project. The credit line will provide a “bridge loan” to pay for the project until the Virginia Resources Authority makes available in December proceeds from bonds that will permanently fund it.

Supervisors will hold a public hearing next month on the VRA bond issue. Staggered real estate tax increases, beginning in 2012, would be required to repay the cost of those bonds.

Waiting for the VRA money to become available would halt progress on the project, which county officials say is necessary because of the existing sewage system’s deteriorated condition and near-capacity usage levels.

The new sewage treatment plant will be about four times the size of the existing one, satisfying the county’s looming capacity issues and allowing it to run new lines to Riverdale Elementary School and, eventually, to the Turner Industrial Park.

Southampton raised the money for the Turner extension with bonds it sold in 2006, County Administrator Michael Johnson said Tuesday. Supervisors have not yet decided whether they will amend the wastewater treatment system contract to include that work or put the project up for competitive bid.

They did decide on Monday, however, to amend their agreement with Southampton Infrastructure LLC to include a water line extension from the Southampton Business Park to a new sewage pump station planned near the intersection of Route 58 and Shady Brook Trail.

Though the cost of that extension must be added to the Southampton Infrastructure contract, it was already included in the overall cost of the project, and funding to cover it will be included in VRA bonds.

The water line extension will simplify the process of providing water service to the industrial park and could eventually make that utility available to other businesses and homes along the 4,000-foot route.

Supervisors also agreed Monday to hire Powell Management Associates to perform construction administration and inspection services for Southampton’s water and sewer projects.

The company’s fee to manage the project is $1,092,100, about 4 percent of the total cost of design and construction.

“While it’s expensive, the last thing we’d want to do is invest more than $26 million and not have full-time managers and inspectors overseeing the quality of the design and construction,” Johnson told supervisors.

In related matters, the board also:

n Directed Johnson to negotiate with International Paper to buy a four-acre property with an existing building on Old Bridge Road to be used as “a base of operation for a number of departments,” including public utilities, public works and, potentially, facilities management and animal control.

n Learned that a contract had been signed for the purchase of a 3.5-acre property that will be the site of the new pump station. Southampton paid $25,000 for the property and agreed to give the seller, Joseph Blake Blythe, water and sewer connections to two adjacent properties.