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Water-plan talk on tap in Caroline

Caroline County supervisors have begun discussing updates to the master plan for the county’s future water needs.

The last time the plan was updated was in June 2002, so it is past due for an update.

The supervisors received a presentation on the water plan Tuesday from interim Public Works/Public Facilities Director Joey Schiebel. It examines the county’s needs over the next 60 years.

The majority of county residents do not rely on public water or sewer, but the county provides service to some and expects residential growth and economic development to bring more customers in the future.

With a capacity of 919,200 gallons per day, the county can handle the current water needs. It averaged about 522,181 gallons per day in July 2013. The summer months often have the highest usage of the year, Schiebel said.

More capacity will open up later this year when Ladysmith Water Co. stops buying water from the county and switches to Aqua Virginia as its supplier.

“This gives us a small window to plan for our future water supplies and needs to meet our future economic and development growth,” Schiebel wrote in his report.

One of the short-term solutions that the board discussed is adding wells.

That, however, will be an issue for places east of Interstate 95 in the future, as the Department of Environmental Quality has expanded the Ground Water Management Area to include Caroline and surrounding counties.

The designation requires additional justification and permitting for new public supply wells. Places west of I–95 are exempt from the restrictions.

Longer-term options include drawing water from the Rappahannock River, which the county continues to study, and purchasing water from adjoining localities.

Schiebel also discussed staffing issues in the utilities department. The department is currently without a director (Schiebel is the interim director) and no new employees have been hired since 2008.

Since then, the Dawn Wastewater System, the State Fair Utility System, the Caroline Pines water system, two new green sand filters and three new wells have been added, which “created a significant amount of work,” Schiebel said

The supervisors approved the hiring of five summer workers to ease the load, but indicated that they would take a closer look at overtime hours for that department, as well as others.

The board planned to continue discussion of the water plan at another work session later this summer.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413