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Funds OK’d to improve water quality

The Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) approved spending more than $450,000 to help improve water quality in the Town of Halifax during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Mary Bethune Complex.

On a motion by Fred Mistal seconded by Coleman Speece, the board unanimously approved installing a recirculation pump and automatic flushing valves as the initial phase of improving water quality for the customers along Maple Avenue, Lakeshore Drive and Buena Vista Drive.

HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones said he had attended the latest Halifax Town Council work session to outline what steps had been taken to improve the quality of water in the affected areas and what could possibly done with HCSA board approval.

Jones told the board Tuesday there are four options that would help improve the taste and odor of the water along those streets, including the automatic flushing valves, installation of a recirculation pump, chemical additions and replacing water lines.

Jones said the chemical additions probably would be more effective if it was done in the whole system, and he said replacing the aged cast iron water lines would cost approximately $450,000. He also pointed out replacing the water lines without doing anything about the recirculation would not solve the problem.

Jones said cost estimate for the initial project including the automatic flushing valves and installing a recirculation pump totals $13,500.

“That won’t eliminate the problem, but it will mitigate it somewhat,” said Jones. “We know we do have some effect when we flush now, but if we can do the combination, hopefully we can make it better than it is.”

Jones said Wednesday the work could probably be performed over the next few months depending on the weather and the workload of HCSA work crews.

He also said an interconnecting line down Sinai Road to the tail end of Mountain Road has been funded. Jones said they could bundle several projects together, including a new water tank, water line replacement and several other smaller projects, and seek funding for the total package.

HCSA Operations Director Mark Estes said approximately 30 miles of cast iron water lines in South Boston need replacing in addition to the Halifax cast iron lines. Jones said he would like to begin on the short-term projects and then work on long-term issues.

In other business, the HCSA board reviewed and approved the lease contract with the South Boston IDA for the proposed new facility on Houghton Boulevard.

Jones said the total construction budget for the site and building is $600,000, but he said with current numbers that total would probably be in the range of $560,000 to $570,000. This would include the building, site work, fencing, curb and guttering, but it does not include furnishings. Jones explained they probably could use furnishings the county has as surplus.

Terms of the lease call for financing no more than $600,000 for 15 years at a 3.71 percent interest rate. At the end of the 15 years, the HCSA could purchase the building and land for $10.

On a motion by Dexter Gilliam, seconded by Dr. Major Wray, the HCSA board approved the contract with the South Boston IDA for a ground lease and building not to exceed $600,000 with the condition of prepayment without penalty.

Jones updated the HCSA board members on current projects, including the meter replacement project in Halifax. He said meter replacement is scheduled to begin Jan. 10, and it should be completed before meters are read in February.

On the Banister Shores water line project, Jones said the HCSA has gotten approval to proceed from the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Jones said they are waiting for approval from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and a review from the county. He said they are planning to put the project out to bid on Jan. 2 with opening on Feb. 1.

Jones said the length of time is part of the requirement for federal funding. He said they have met with all participating landowners concerning where they want their connect lines to be placed. The contract for the project will be awarded at the February HCSA meeting.

Jones also updated the board on the Maple Avenue wastewater plant design. He said upgrades to the plant would enable the HCSA to meet requirements of the DEQ. Jones also said the upgrades would provide energy cost savings to the HCSA.

The next step in the design phase is to look at the degree of automation and control that will be put in the plant. “We’re going to see some cost savings in the operation, but we’ll also have better treatment than what we have now,” Jones pointed out.

The new upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant will enable the HCSA to treat four million gallons a day and almost 12 million gallons during a peak storm surge, Jones explained.

Jones said for other projects, they have completed most of the easements required for Rural Development. He said they have acquired approximately 400 total easements.

Jones also explained the HCSA has spent $39,800 on sludge disposal for the Maple Avenue wastewater plant and $12,205 for the Halifax plant for the current fiscal year.

He said the HCSA is paying about $50 a ton to dispose of sludge. He said McGill Co. in Waverly operates a composting station and charges $40 a ton, and he would look further into the possibility of hauling sludge to that composting station.

The HCSA board discussed its line of credit that matures Jan. 2. Mistal made a motion, with Wray providing the second, to renew the line of credit with Carter Bank & Trust for another year.

The HCSA board approved authorization for solicitation of proposals for term service contracts for audit, engineering and banking services.

Jones said he would like to send out the proposal to bid for audit services Dec. 27, with responses due Jan. 24. The HCSA board would award the contract Feb. 17, and the contract would begin April 1. He said Rural Development requires the HCSA to have procured audit services, and the current contract expires with completion of the existing audit.

Jones said engineering contracts have expired, but he plans to send out proposals for engineering services in mid-February. The HCSA board also agreed to continue its banking services for another two years with SunTrust Bank.

Prior to adjourning, the HCSA board went into closed session to discuss personnel issues related to specific employees and to review contract negotiations with a private firm where disclosure of the details would hinder the authority’s ability to negotiate.