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County leaders to dive into water problems this fall

At least 36 communities in Loudoun County – many in suburban eastern Loudoun – are living with problems with their drinking and waste water systems, an assessment report presented to supervisors on June 20 revealed.

Of those communities, the report showed, 16 were studied to determine the funding levels needed to solve those problems. The total price tag was more than $27.4 million.

Loudoun supervisors are expected to delve deep into this report this fall in what will likely be a series of committee of the whole discussions to try and find solutions to these problems through policy, planning and implementation.

The report is a product of an eight-member task force consisting of various county department representatives that was created by government leaders in 2007 to develop a plan to solve potential future and existing water and sewer needs in Loudoun County.

The task force met on a part-time basis between 2007 and 2010 to develop the report.

Supervisors deferred discussing the report in January because of scheduling conflicts.

In the report, task force members used Health Department surveys to determine communities’ needs.

Among the findings:
* Paeonian Springs, a community along Route 9 north of Route 7 consisting of 116 homes, carried the largest price tag to bring its on-site water and sewer systems up to par. The estimated cost for a community water and sewer system is $4.6 million. Properties located within the community, the report found, are small with older facilities. Thirteen percent of the facilities are considered to be unsatisfactory and the status of another 27 percent of the facilities is unknown.

* Other communities living on failing facilities included Lincoln, an area of 60 homes south of Purcellville along Lincoln Road. The area, surveyed by the Health Department in 1999, was found to have 33 percent of its sewage disposal systems failing. It would cost $3.2 million to construct a community water and sewer system, the report shows.

* The Town of Hillsboro, surveyed in 1999 by the Health Department, runs on a spring and a drilled well. The town has been on a boil water notice since 2000, meaning the water is not safe to consume unless first boiled. The estimated cost for a community water and sewer system is $2.4 million.

Many of the communities identified in the report in eastern Loudoun are older communities that were bypassed by the central water system when development began to spring up in the area, including Potomac Farms.

The community of 156 homes on Smith Circle, west of Loudoun County Parkway, is serviced by privately owned wells and on-site sewer systems. Residents regularly complain to the state Department of Health about low water pressure and aesthetic water quality issues, the report shows. It would cost $3.9 million to replace the privately operated water system.

Also included in the survey is Broad Run Farms, a community of 425 homes north of Route 7 in Sterling. The community is served by public sewer with the exception of a few on-site waste water systems. The price for extending public sewer to the remaining homes is unknown, but several wells adjacent to the nearby Hidden Lane Landfill are contaminated with trichloroethylene, the report said. Trichloroethylene is commonly used as an industrial solvent.

The task force in its report listed nine recommendations for the Board of Supervisors to address the county’ water and sewer problems, including policies to ensure central water and waste water systems to communities as they become available; funding options such as capital needs assessments and capital improvement programs; and inter-jurisdictional collaboration among others.

To view the entire report go to http://www.loudoun.gov

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