WINCHESTER — Frederick Water’s Board of Directors on Tuesday night unanimously passed a resolution that it will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for Frederick Water’s 87 employees.
Frederick Water is a sanitation authority that provides water and sewer service to over 17,000 customers, including residential, commercial, and industrial users. Its five-member board is appointed by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors, but Frederick Water operates independently of the county government.
Board member Stanley Crockett read the resolution, which states, “The board respects each individual’s decision on whether or not to take any vaccine-related to COVID.” The resolution adds that Frederick Water encourages and supports employees to consult with their doctor.
“We will not penalize any employee that is not vaccinated,” Crockett said. “We will not provide bonuses, incentives, or any other rewards for taking the vaccine.”
The Frederick County government hasn’t mandated COVID-19 vaccines for its staff, either.
Also at the meeting, Frederick Water Executive Director Eric Lawrence said a request for customers to voluntarily conserve water saved about a million gallons of water per day within the past month. The conservation effort was in response to a harmful algae bloom that affected the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, which Frederick Water officials said in August might force it to temporarily halt buying water from the City of Winchester to avoid contaminating Frederick Water’s system with toxins. The voluntary effort was announced to prepare for a potential water shortage and to allow Frederick Water’s quarries to recharge.
The city’s water supply ultimately turned out to be safe, and the algae bloom issued has passed as a result of recent heavy rains.
“So the river is in good shape, and the quarries are in good shape, and everything’s positive,” Lawrence said.
Frederick Water only produced 6.6 million gallons of water per day when customers were conserving water. Earlier this summer, it produced anywhere from 7.2 million to 8.5 million gallons of water per day. Lawrence and the board agreed that this showed that Frederick Water’s customers were willing to take the steps necessary to conserve water over a public health concern.
“This board chose to take the path of communicating well with our customers,” Crockett said. “And I think this is an excellent case study for future reference; the majority of folks will seek to work with you and do the right thing.”
The board also:
Voted unanimously to extend Lawrence’s employment agreement as executive director through Sept. 30, 2026. His current agreement, which began in 2016, would have expired on Oct. 1.
Unanimously requested the Board of Supervisors revise Frederick Water’s articles of incorporation so Frederick Water can expand its service area. Clarke County wants Frederick Water to provide water/sewer service to 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). Frederick Water is also in talks with Warren County about providing water and sewer services in that jurisdiction.
Attending the meeting at 315 Tasker Road in Stephens City were Chairman Gary Oates and board members Stanley Crockett, Martha Dilg and Henry Sliwinski.