Smithfield looks to IW for water

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Move seen as way to prepare for growth, permit cutbacks

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The town of Smithfield is considering a water buying/swapping agreement with Isle of Wight County. 

As the deal takes shape, it would be dependent upon when Isle of Wight County is able to provide water from its new line down Route 10 and when the town comes up for renewal of its water withdrawal permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. 

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The issue was discussed March 2 at an intergovernmental meeting between members of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and Smithfield Town Council.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Town and county officials agreed that Smithfield would benefit from the capacity afforded by Isle of Wight, and in turn, the county has a need to add new water customers. 

By the end of the meeting, it was settled that the town would look at this option in no less than three years and no more than five. 

The three years represents how long it will take Isle of Wight County to build its water line down Route 10 from the Suffolk city line, and the five years refers to when Smithfield needs to renew its water withdrawal permit. 

Another component would be a trigger amount of water usage by the town of Smithfield. 

Currently, the town has the ability to withdraw 1.2 million gallons of water a day and uses about 860,000, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Currently, Isle of Wight has a capacity of 3.5 million gallons a day and uses about 600,000, according to Don Jennings, director of utility services with Isle of Wight County. 

The county has a future capacity of 5.1 million gallons a day through the Western Tidewater Water Authority beginning in 3038, he said. 

Much of the future water capacity would come from surface water available from the 2009 Norfolk water deal. The excess capacity from the Norfolk water deal has led the county to seek additional water customers as a way to cover its costs. 

Stephenson said it would be helpful to the town to have an agreement in place before its water withdrawal permit expires in 2023. 

“We’re not trying to be an island unto ourselves anymore,” said Stephenson, adding that such a move would fit in with a regional push by DEQ to limit or reduce water withdrawal amounts. 

It would also provide for future growth and as a back-up system, according Smithfield Town Council member Milton Cook. 

Mayor Carter Williams said in a phone interview the town would retain its current infrastructure, such as the reverse-osmosis treatment plant, and that this is a hedge against possible reductions on the town’s water withdrawal permits as well as potential growth.

This is looking 25 years or more into the future, he said. 

The water purchase agreement utilizing the Route 10 water line would remain separate from the current utility agreement in place between Smithfield and Isle of Wight County, that provides water and sewer to Gatling Pointe. Under that agreement, Isle of Wight County purchases water from the town and sells to it residents of Gatling Pointe.  {/mprestriction}