Officials pass water resolution

FRONT ROYAL–The Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission passed a resolution Thursday evening to endorse adding a water supply and quality planning special assessment to its 2016 fiscal year budget.

The commission is a regional planning body consisting of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties, the towns of Berryville, Edinburg, Front Royal, Luray, Middletown, Mount Jackson, New Market, Shenandoah, Stanley, Stephens City, Strasburg, Toms Brook, Woodstock and the city of Winchester.

Each member jurisdiction contributes funds to the commission for transportation programs, housing and community development programs, and natural resources management programs, and to help with projects within individual jurisdictions.

Using the 2011 census data, the commission charges each jurisdiction $.58 per resident. A solid waste management program, which not every jurisdiction participates in, charges $.135 per resident. The commission voted Thursday to use the 2013 census data to assess member jurisdiction contributions.

The water supply and quality planning special assessment will cost $.15 cents per resident. The plan is a regional effort to meet deadlines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency’s initiative to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Commission chair Dennis Morris said this is the second phase of a process that started in 2009, when Virginia mandated all localities study their water supplies.

“When they mandated that, localities throughout the state went to their regional commissions for the resources and expertise to do that,” Morris said. “Now, five years later, we’re looking at deadlines in 2016 and 2017, so we got to get the ball rolling early.”

Like the last study, the water supply and quality planning special assessment will survey the amount of water available to jurisdictions. However, this time around, the quality of water will be surveyed. The commonwealth is asking for all localities to submit data by Sept. 30.

Morris said the reason for passing this resolution so early is that some localities in the commission start their budgeting process early.

“We need to give them time to look at what we’re proposing and decide if they want to do it,” Morris said. “Some of these localities get the ball rolling on budget as early as December.”

Since passing the resolution, commissioners will now present the water assessment, along with the population adjustment, to their elected officials. It will now be up to the town councils and boards of supervisors to accept or reject the resolution.

The next commission meeting will be in January.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com