For the last 25 years, in order for the residents of Hillsboro to safely drink tap water, a boil water notice has been in effect.
On July 20, a new municipal well will be dedicated, completing a $4 million project, and clean drinking water will be the long-awaited reward for the town’s approximately 110 residents.
“It’s a pretty sophisticated system, and it is totally modernized,” said Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance.
The town’s new well — known as the Belle and John Ware Stonehedge Well — is located on land acquired by the town from the late Evelyn “Belle” Ware, a lifelong Hillsboro resident and community leader.
Ware, who passed away in 2018, was involved in the planning process of the new well site.
“I look at the well and think, ‘Belle, we did it,’” said Vice Mayor Amy Marasco.
Vance said the town’s new drinking water source produces 25 gallons per minute and replaces Hill Tom Spring, which has served the community for more than 180 years.
Situated on Short Hill Mountain high above the town, the spring was named for the free African American known as “Hill Tom,” who owned the spring and shared it with the town, according to Vance.
In the early 19th century, the spring was connected to the town using hollowed logs. In 1858, the Hillsboro Water Company was formed, and the logs were replaced with iron pipe, serving public pumps along Hillsboro’s main street, Charles Town Pike, or Route 9. It became an official public waterworks in 1953.
In the 1990s, the spring was determined by the Virginia Department of Health to be under the influence of surface water. The town has operated its waterworks under a series of Virginia Department of Health Consent Orders since then, which ultimately required the spring’s disconnection from the municipal system.
Meanwhile, the town worked to develop a well source with adequate capacity.
Over the years, it took at least three attempts at finding a new well location before settling for the current one located on Highwater Road.
After awarding a contract to Shirley Construction, in July 2019, construction of the town’s Safe Drinking Water Project began.
But the project had many twists and turns, Marasco said. Near completion of Phase 1A of the project to connect the new water source to the existing water main in April, the 60-year-old main collapsed, requiring the emergency installation of a temporary, above-ground main.
To address the emergency situation, as part of the Hillsboro Traffic Calming and Pedestrian Safety Project, Archer Western Construction in May accelerated its schedule for installation of the town’s new distribution system.
In July, Archer Western completed installation of the town’s new water main and service lines and made the final permanent connections to the town’s new waterworks, severing the connection to Hill Tom Spring.
Vance said the July 20 ceremony will recognize all of the town’s partners in the project, including Virginia Department of Health officials and Loudoun County supervisors past and present.
Also to be recognized are Loudoun Water, Emery and Garrett Groundwater Investigation, the project’s design engineer firm Hazen and Sawyer and Shirley Contracting.
“In addition to the many state and county government officials who supported us and the professionals who designed and built this new system, it would have never happened without the dedication and thousands of hours of work on the part of a cadre of volunteers and town officials over many years,” Vance said.
Marasco and Vance also praised the town’s water commissioner, Claudia Forbes, for her efforts in keeping the old water system running and transitioning to the new system.
“There is nothing simple about any aspect of this project due to the complexity of everything because the system was so old,” Vance said.
The system can provide a water line to residents’ homes, even if they have their own well.
“We really looked ahead at what we can do to put the infrastructure in place. We brought the town into the 21st century,” Marasco said.