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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We’d pay more than our share
Feb 11, 2009     (Virginia Gazette - Letter to the Editor - By Don Phillips)
 
Williamsburg has had agreements with Newport News Waterworks under which it purchased raw
water for a number of years. Now Newport News wants a new deal.
 
Under the new Project Development Agreement, Williamsburg would apparently: (1) Make two payments
totaling $25 million (plus inflation on the second payment) to Newport News. (2) Pay for delivery of the raw water and for treatment and delivery of the treated water. (3) Pay 10% of the cost of maintaining and operating the King William Reservoir if it is built (or alternative project if it is not built). (4) Pay 10% of the cost of maintaining and operating the entire Newport News Waterworks raw water system.
 
My concerns deal with item 4. The project definition includes not only the components that would be a part of the King William Reservoir system or alternative, but 100% of the facilities associated with the existing Newport News raw water system. Although it may be reasonable for Williamsburg to pay 10% of the capital and O&M costs for the reservoir or alternative if Williamsburg is going to receive 10% of the safe yield from such a system, paying 10% of the O&M costs of the entirety of the existing raw water system does not seem at all reasonable. Newport News Waterworks’ O&M expenses for the year ending June 30, 2007, were listed as $48.6 million. Leaving out the cost of treating and delivering the 43.5 mgd it sold that year and
depreciation on the existing raw water system reduces the basis for the variable O&M costs to $25
million. Under the new agreement,Williamsburg's O&M costs would be 10% of this amount. If this interpretation is correct, the $2.5 million per year (plus inflation) of O&M costs over the 50-year life
of the contract will dwarf the capital costs of $25 million Williamsburg would be agreeing to pay.
 
The budget is based on an assumption of 0.5% growth in water demand per year. This assumption
is ill-founded. In spite of the fact that the population in the Waterworks service area has experienced
significant growth over the past 18 years, Newport News has had to deal with decreasing water sales.
Replacement of old toilets, washing machines, etc. in existing housing will also result in water demand
reductions in Williamsburg. These reductions will offset some degree of population growth. In the
long run,Williamsburg can expect a reduction in overall water demand.
 
The prospect of having to pay more than Williamsburg's fair share of the cost of maintaining and operating Newport News’ existing raw water system over the 50-year term of the agreement would seem to be sufficient reason to reject the proposed PDA. As an alternative to paying so much money to have water available that may not be needed in the long run,Williamsburg might consider an incentive program to accelerate water savings with efficient toilets, washing machines, etc. James City has already established such a program.
 
Williamsburg City Council is scheduled to discuss the PDA with Newport News, and possibly vote on it, at 2 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 12. Citizens can address the council at that meeting.
 
Donald Phillips
Yorktown

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