Frustrated IW water customers

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Some Days Point water customers were frustrated recently when their service was cut off without warning or explanation. They were unable to get anyone on the phone and then received a boil notice that has gone on for days without being lifted, according to resident Angela Smith in a July 5 email. 

“One week of boiling water after the high price we pay? Nobody on the water system able to reach the county at all for hours? No follow-up communication from the county at all?,” asked Smith in an email.

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Smith said residents called 365-6319 on June 29, the day the water was cut off, and the same number provided by Isle of Wight County utilities for calls during business hours. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

That number was called multiple times by multiple people and was never answered but went straight to voicemail, said Smith.

Smith said a neighbor finally called the Rushmere District Supervisor, Rudolph Jefferson, for help.

“He was very responsive,” said Smith.

The Days Point water system serves about 80 households, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.

Robertson said there was a leak detected in the line and that was why the water was shut off.

Once that was fixed, the county was required to send out a boil notice, he said. 

Before the boil notice can be lifted, the system must be tested on two days, at least 24 hours apart, he said. 

Those samples are sent to the Virginia Department of Health for testing.

The snag occurred because of Fourth of July holiday fell in the middle of the week, said Robertson, adding that if the county were to send the samples to the lab on the weekend, it would have to pay overtime rates. 

For that reason, Robertson estimated the boil notice would be lifted in the middle of this week. 

“I know it’s a major inconvenience for people,” said Robertson, adding that the boil notice only pertains to water for drinking and cooking. 

Robertson said some staff may have been on vacation and that is why the department may have been difficult to reach that day.

Robertson said staff has talked to Days Point residents about the issue. 

Smith pointed out that Isle of Wight residents pay a good sum of money for county water and the rates rise regularly — and are one of the highest in the region.

Isle of Wight County did enact another water rate hike for fiscal 2019 — up 5 percent. 

It was less than the 9.5 percent proposed in a 2015 rate study, but incremental increases are anticipated through 2020. The 5 percent rate hike followed another made in fiscal 2018. 

The lower rate hike for this year was to balance the need for the county to decrease the subsidy of its water and sewer system with what is affordable for its residents, said Isle of Wight County Administrator Randy Keaton during a budget discussion earlier this year.  {/mprestriction}