Larry Foster Talks Water-Sewer With J4C
Larry Foster, General Manager of the James City County Service Authority (JCSA) that provides water and sewer collection services to most of James City County (JCC), spoke about the challenges of operating a localized water and sewer utility at J4C’s May General Meeting.
- Partners with Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) for sewer services
- Partners with Newport News Waterworks for water treatment and delivery of drinking water to country residents around Grove and Kingsmill.
- Serves residents within JCC’s Primary Service Area (PSA) that encompasses about 50% of the county.
- Staff of 90 delivers about 5 million gallons of water per day through 800 miles of pipes, using 75 pump stations and 10 production facilities.
- Waterworks customers in JCC, including the In-Bev Brewery, use another 5 million gallons per day of surface water from reservoirs, paying Waterworks rates
- JCSA is non-profit; it operates from service fees
Water Demand Flattens
- Water demand remained flat over past five years despite continued growth due to:
- Economic recession
- Changed weather patterns
- User conservation practices
- Increased use of water efficient fixtures and appliances
- Water usage in JCC is the same today as in 2008
- Demand for water from the Waterworks has dropped to what it was in 1980
- Lower usage means nominal increases in revenue from service fees – expenses increase with inflation.
- 80% of JCSA’s expenditures are fixed – not impacted by demand.
- Whether demand reduction has been institutionalized or is short-term is not yet known.
Newport News Water Agreement
- JCSA is totally dependent on groundwater
- Groundwater is not a long-term water supply solution
- In 2008 JCSA entered into a $50 million agreement with Newport News Waterworks for the right to draw as much as 6 million gallons per day from their surface water supplies.
- $25 million was paid to the Waterworks when the agreement was signed
- JCSA must respond to the remaining part of the agreement by 2018.
- In 2008, JCSA expected to need added water by 2010-2011
- Then the economy dove into recession and demand flattened.
- None of the purchased water allotment has as yet been used
- Infrastructure is in place to bring water from Waterworks into JCSA
Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Renewal
Renewal of JCSA’s groundwater withdrawal permit by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is now underway.
- Seeking to withdraw slightly less water over ten years than the existing permit allows.
- As a condition of renewal Foster expects DEQ to require JCSA to begin using its purchased Waterworks supplies
- Goal – to make groundwater a backup rather than primary water source for the utility.
Sewer Consent Order
In 2007, JCSA entered into a consent order with DEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- Requires $60-$100 million in sewer improvements over 20 years
- EPA & DEQ would like utilities in the region to form under an umbrella group
- 14 area localities would comprise the umbrella group
- Localities must decide by February 2014 whether to join the umbrella organization
- HRSD will most likely become the umbrella organization
- Draft assessment report by localities likely available this summer