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City Defers Water Resolution for Wording
Posted: Friday, February 13th, 2009
A proposed resolution to finance water from Newport News was deferred again during Williamsburg’s City Council meeting Thursday.
Council members heard from opponents of the King William Reservoir - where Newport News expects to eventually get the water - who feared the resolution's wording wasn't clear enough on how much of "future expenses" the city would be obligated to bear.
Some residents argue that the water isn’t needed so the city shouldn’t go in debt on the project. Council members and city officials contend that although demand for water isn’t rising, Williamsburg needs the water for drought situations.
During public hearings residents offered their opinions on Williamsburg’s involvement with the King William Reservoir project.
Louis Catron, of Millneck Road, said the city should use money to explore options with Waller Mill, such as moving the 270 foot dam back and digging the reservoir deeper to increase its capacity, instead of buying water that doesn’t exist yet.
“There’s many other options than a $25 million pig in a poke,” Catron said.
Cary Nunnally, a Newport News resident, said the King William Reservoir should be put on the back burner or stopped altogether. “It seems like the goal is development, not water supply,” she said.
Dan Clayton, Williamsburg’s Director of Public Works and Utilities, urged the council to go forward with the project to avoid buying water in drought situations. Waller Mill is currently 13 inches below its spillway, which means the city will need to buy water if it doesn’t rain soon.
Clayton rebutted Catron’s statement saying “size does not affect yield.” Waller Mill is only 7.5 square miles of watershed. Other larger reservoirs store more rainfall because of their surface area, not depth. Basically, a pool can collect more rain than a bucket.
Talk of King William Reservoir has been ongoing since the late 1980s. Williamsburg officials are concerned for future residents and their water supply, saying that now is the time to act before it’s too late.
“We clearly have a record of needing water in times of drought,” Mayor Jeanne Zeidler said.
Whether Williamsburg will finance water from Newport News is still unclear. Council members are hesitant to sign on to a project without knowing who will front the money and while the contract is still under debate. City Manager Jack Tuttle will resume conversations with Newport News about the proposed resolution's wording.
King William Reservoir however, is still a go. Hearings about the reservoir and its legality are taking place in state and federal courts.