Stephens City announces position on water dispute

Stephens City councilman Jason Nauman released a statement Friday outlining the town’s official position on the state of water and wastewater negotiations with the Frederick County Sanitation Authority.

A town news release issued Thursday detailed a letter written by Nauman in response to a letter from the sanitation authority on July 22.

In the authority’s letter, engineer and director Uwe Weindel wrote to Assistant Town Manager Michael Majher that Stephens City owes $16,859 in water service charges and $266,768 in wastewater service charges, penalties included.

Additionally, Weindel wrote that if full payment of those charges was not received by July 30, the authority “will have to take all other actions available to us in order to collect these unpaid bills.” He wrote that the authority was not seeking to terminate service to the town.

In return, Nauman wrote in his letter that Stephens City has billed the authority for an outstanding amount of at least $275,010 for drawing water from quarries in Stephens City. The July 30 news release states that the authority also owes the town for overcharges and illegal water withdrawal charges.

According to Weindel’s letter, both parties signed a 1991 wastewater agreement and a 1992 water contract. The Stephens City news release stated that those 20-year agreements expired in 2012 and the town voluntarily extended the agreement into 2014 for the purposes of negotiating a new service. Once that extension expired, the town notified the authority that it would need to pay the town to draw water that belongs to the town and its residents.

The town position paper states that according to a report made by Martin Jansons of civil engineering firm Peed & Bortz, LLC, overcharges made during the two-year extension period amounted to around $150,000.

Nauman said that after a meeting with authority representatives on July 20, the Town Council understood the authority’s preparation for litigation.

“They made it clear that the issue was going to have to be settled in court and that they intend to sue us,” he said.

The council sought legal advice in a special closed session meeting this past week.

Although the town council will host a public meeting Tuesday, Nauman doesn’t anticipate there will be any new developments to review unless the authority has already taken legal steps by then.

“It’s hard to negotiate with a party who insists it’s their way or no way,” he said.

Weindel was not available for comment.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com