The Purcellville Town Council on Tuesday night authorized the town staff to negotiate a deal with the Town of Hamilton that would connect sewer and potable water lines between the two towns to provide Hamilton residents and businesses with wastewater filtration and to provide both towns with the chance to sell treated water to one another.
While the idea to extend Purcellville’s sewer line to Hamilton arose last year, the idea to extend a water line there came up more recently, when Public Works Director Buster Nicholson suggested it after realizing that Hamilton had a largely unused well that is capable of producing thousands of gallons of water each hour.
In 2018, Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser, Hamilton Mayor David Simpson and Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance began talking about possibly extending Purcellville’s sewer line to Hamilton and Hillsboro to make use of the unused capacity in Purcellville’s treatment system.
The town’s Basham Simms Wastewater Facility has the capacity to treat 1.5 million gallons of sewage each day, but, according to Town Manager David Mekarski, on average treats only 650,000 gallons each day. Mekarski said that if the town extends a sewer line to the east, Hamilton might send over about 160,000 gallons of sewage each day, which would take up about 19 percent of the town’s excess capacity.
While looking into that venture, Mekarski said that Nicholson realized the towns could also mutually benefit from interconnected water service, since Hamilton’s well can produce more than 300 gallons of water every minute—water that Nicholson said the town’s utility customers don’t need on a regular basis.
Mekarski said that because a Jacobs Engineering report found that Purcellville would need 200,000 gallons more water each day during droughts and fires, it could use Hamilton’s excess water during those times. He said that connecting water between the towns “could go a long way to reducing our capital costs.”
Councilman Chris Bledsoe expressed concern that the water line connection might not work out in all situations, since a drought would affect Purcellville and Hamilton equally, as their corporate limits are less than a mile apart. In that case, he said that one of the towns might not be willing to provide water to the other. “All of the region is going to be experiencing drought conditions,” he said.
Nicholson said that connecting a water line between the towns would simply provide options for the towns.
Councilman Ted Greenly emphasized that if the water and sewer line extensions do work out, the town should assure residents that they wouldn’t be burdened with any costs “if the deal unravels.”
Nicholson said that discussions were preliminary and that the town is merely talking with county leaders and looking at what it can and can’t do in the Joint Land Management Area—land outside the town limits where towns provide with utility service. “If that is a go with them, then we will [proceed with negotiations and plans],” he said.
It’s the land in between the towns that some residents are concerned about since a sewer line extension connecting Hamilton with Purcellville, and now a possible water line extension, could provide developers with the utility service they need to construct new subdivisions along the route in that area.
Fraser, Simpson and Vance earlier this year said they were confident that a sewer line connecting the town systems would not be an invitation for growth.
The Purcellville town staff will present the Town Council with a project plan and schedule outlining a possible water and sewer line extension project at its September work session.