Threatened Sensitive Joint Vetch as found in area of proposed KWR Intake on Mattaponi River, further endangered by King William Reservoir Project
King William Reservoir Opposition, Alliance To Save The Mattaponi, P.O. Box 150 Mattaponi, VA 23110-0150
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Forum Today on Proposed KW Reservoir
WYDaily Staff    
Posted: Sunday, February 8th, 2009

A public forum will be held today to review the environmental and financial issues surrounding the controversial King William Reservoir.

The forum - sponsored by the Virignia Sierra Club, the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi, Williamsburg Growth Watch and the Student Environmental Action Coalition - will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 8) in Millington Hall Room 150 on the College of William and Mary campus. Click here for a campus map.

Organizers say they'll examine the financial implications to water bill payers such as how much water rates will rise and how the project would affect the quality of life for Peninsula residents.

The forum comes on the heels of a joint report issued this weekend by the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi and the Sierra Club. The report warns that water rates will skyrocket because Newport News water use projections are well beyond what actual use is likely to be.

The report claims the Newport News water and population projections that support the city’s 2007 $40 million dollar water revenue bond are erroneous and misleading. The most recent report comes after two August 2008 reports showed that the city’s actual population growth and Peninsula water demand were far short of the projections the city had presented to various permitting authorities when seeking project approval.

“The implications of the erroneous projections are that the predicted revenues will not materialize to pay off the 2007 water revenue bond. That means that water rates and hookup fees would have to rise significantly to satisfy the city’s financial obligations” said Dr. Donald Phillips, the report’s author and a retired scientific researcher at NASA Langley.

The report also notes that Newport News’ bond prospectus claimed that “there is no litigation pending or, to its knowledge and belief, threatened which would have a material adverse effect on the operations or financial condition of the System.”  Opponents of the project point out that, in fact, they are engaged in litigation in federal court due to a number of project violations of important environmental laws.  Additionally, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has challenged the legality of the project’s Virginia state permit extension in state court.  In addition to the litigation, the State Water Control Board must renew the project’s permit by 2012, which is uncertain.  In 2006 the Water Board declared a construction moratorium on the project and the Chairman said it was clear that the project needed a “top down review”.

Based on Newport News’ Annual Water Rate Studies, the reports show that Newport News is selling less water per day than it was in 1990. The city’s Waterworks data indicates water sales have been relatively constant over from 1990-2007, but have actually decreased in recent years.

Much of that is due to increased water efficiency in household appliances, such as toilets, dishwaters and washing machines. Some is also due to a slowdown in development.

The projected amount of water that Newport News would obtain from the King William Reservoir if it were constructed is approximately 17 million gallons per day.

The earlier reports show the City of Newport News’ water sales have not increased since at least 1993 and projections for near-future water use are off by 17.7 million gallons per day, an overestimation of some 40 percent.

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