WINCHESTER — Frederick Water has begun preliminary discussions on possibly expanding its water and sewer services to Warren County.
Frederick Water Executive Director Eric Lawrence said Warren County is interested in Frederick Water becoming the water and sewer service provider for planned growth in the U.S. 340-522 corridor. He said there also is interest in Frederick Water becoming the water and sewer service provider for Warren County’s existing residents.
Frederick Water provides water and sewer services to more than 17,000 customers in Frederick County and Winchester, including residential, commercial and industrial users.
Warren County currently purchases water and sewer from the Town of Front Royal, but Lawrence said Frederick Water offers better rates. He explained that a Warren County resident pays Front Royal $54.96 for 5,000 gallons a month while the same amount would cost $30.33 from Frederick Water. Warren County residents pay Front Royal $94.26 per 5,000 gallons of sewage while Frederick Water charges $48.56 for the same amount.
Frederick Water has held a few discussions with Warren County supervisors and County Administrator Ed Daley. During a Sept. 8 joint meeting with the Frederick County Board of Supervisors, supervisors supported Lawrence’s continued pursuit of the issue.
Clarke County also wants Frederick Water to provide water/sewer service in Double Tollgate — a commercial area in the southwest portion of Clarke surrounding the intersection of Lord Fairfax Highway (U.S. 340), Fairfax Pike (Va. 277) and Stonewall Jackson Highway (U.S. 522 and 340). Clarke is seeking up to 150,000 daily gallons of water/sewer capacity from Frederick Water.
Lawrence told the Frederick County Board of Supervisors last week that it is a good time to begin considering a regional water and sewer authority. The General Assembly is encouraging regional water supply planning. House Bill 542, signed by Gov. Ralph Northam in April 2020, encourages “development of cross-jurisdictional water supply projects.” He also noted that federal and state grant opportunities often seek regional approaches
There are various advantages to taking a more regional approach to water and sewer services, Lawrence said. If a single entity plans for long-range water and sewer needs, he said it save customers money. Having multiple water sources and treatment plants feed into a single distribution system gives Frederick Water more options and prevents one water source from being overwhelmed. If Frederick Water has multiple water sources at its disposal, it could afford to allow certain sources to recharge.
He also said that having multiple water sources available is useful if one of the sources becomes contaminated. Lawrence noted Winchester had a scare last month when it was discovered that its water source — the North Fork of the Shenandoah River — was affected by a harmful algae bloom. While the city’s water supply ultimately turned out to be safe, Winchester residents would have been unable to drink tap water had toxins been discovered.
Conversations regarding a Frederick Water/Warren County partnership are ongoing.
Lawrence and Warren County Administrator Ed Daley said there is no timeline for when Frederick Water could expand its services.