Proposal for 'green project' using town's sewer system caused too many concerns
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Town Council will not consider a request from the future Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail to use Front Royal's sewer system to dispose of rainwater used to do laundry.
During a work session Tuesday night, the council came to a consensus not to put the item on its agenda for Monday's meeting.
Moseley Architects plans to construct a rainwater cistern, and use the water solely for laundry and the jail's cooling tower. Tony Bell, from Moseley Architects, explained that rainwater used for laundry would be treated, and would equate to more than 800,000 gallons of water being put into the town's sewer system annually.
Bell also pointed out that the cistern does not take into account all other water demands for things like shower and toilet use, and that other water would be purchased from the town.
Essentially, he said, the jail would be taking out as much as it would put back into the town's system, hoping to address capacity concerns with the wastewater treatment plant.
As time goes on, anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 would be saved annually because of the cistern, Bell said. Additionally, it would help bring the jail up to an LEED silver certification. Without the cistern, it could go down to a normal certification, Bell said.
While council members acknowledged the importance of "green" projects like the rainwater cistern, the majority had overriding concerns about future consequences.
Councilman Thomas E. Conkey compared the approval of foreign water coming into the town's system to "Pandora's box."
"There are going to be others in town who will want to do the same thing," he said, adding he already knew of several businesses that would "get in line."
Town Manager Steve Burke echoed Conkey's concern, and said that while it makes sense from the jail's perspective, "it would be a disservice to town citizens."
Conkey and Councilmen N. Shae Parker and Hollis Tharpe all spoke of present issues with outside entities using the town's wastewater system, and that the extra intake would bring it over capacity.
"I'm trying to find a nice way to say no," Tharpe said, offering that it might be something they could take on in the next several years once the town deals with current issues.
Parker agreed, and said it was the "right idea, but wrong time."
Councilmen Chris W. Holloway and Thomas H. Sayre were the only members to vote yes to the proposal, although Holloway did think the town should take legal action to prohibit anyone else but the jail or other government facilities from using the town's sewer
system in this way.
"The idea carries validity," said Mayor Timothy W. Darr. "In the future we might see it as a reality." He and Burke agreed with the majority of the council.