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Jail water and sewer continue to be a concern

By Sally Voth

How water and sewer services will be handled at the new Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail remains a sticky subject.

The issue was brought up again at Monday's Front Royal Town Council work session.

When the Town Council a little more than a year ago opted not to accept the jail's laundry wastewater, which would have come from collected rainwater, the authority decided to look at treating both the laundry effluent as well as that of the entire jail.

Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley, who is the chairman of the RSW Jail Authority, addressed the Town Council at the work session. He said the authority learned that it could save about $3.3 million over the course of 20 years by having its own wastewater treatment plant.

After the Town Council told the authority it wouldn't sell town water without the authority also paying for town sewage treatment, the authority decided to look at building its own water treatment system, Stanley said. In doing so, the authority learned either option would cost about the same, with having its own system saving the authority more money in the long term.

"The authority needs to move on with this issue," Stanley said. "We need to move pretty quickly to stay on schedule.

"This is a business decision for the authority, not a political one."

Stanley told the Town Council his colleagues on the jail authority wanted him to emphasize he wasn't there because authority members feared losing "the challenge."

"We're offering an olive branch to resolve the matter and get on with building the facility," said Stanley.

Mentioning "challenge" led Councilman Bret Hrbek to ask Stanley if the authority was planning to sue the town.

Stanley said it wasn't, but it is willing to move forward and build its own facilities.

He said a solution could involve the town allowing the authority to use cistern water for laundry purposes and then having the town treat it, charging the authority the same it would pay if it ran its own system, and keeping the jail on the town's public system, thus keeping a package plant out of the industrial corridor.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt said his main concern was environmental.

"My biggest problem is putting this water into a dry stream," he said.

Tewalt said the town had an option to develop McKay Spring, which is downstream from the jail site, and was worried it could be contaminated by the jail discharging into the dry stream bed.

"I think anybody [who] had any common sense, including the ones sitting in here, ought to consider that," Tewalt said.

Ron Mislowsky, of Pennoni Associates Inc., responded to Tewalt's concern.

"I don't think that's the first choice of the authority either, to do any of the treatment on site," he said.

Tewalt said the town was mandated to spend millions on a treatment plant, and wondered where the extra money would be coming from.

"I don't think it should be up to the Front Royal taxpayers to pay this additional funding so someone else can save a few bucks," he said.

The Town Council went into closed session to discuss the issue, but didn't state anything publicly after that session.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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