By Stefanie Jackson – Spencer Murray, chairman of the Northampton board of supervisors, addressed the Cape Charles town council Nov. 21 about joining the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), which provides sewer service for 20% of Virginia’s population, 1.7 million people in 18 localities.
“We see it as an opportunity. It doesn’t obligate us to do anything … but it’s something we need to look at,” Murray said.
As a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia, HRSD is required to serve any Eastern Shore towns that request to join the district.
HRSD has proposed building a sewer main from Nassawadox to Exmore, Melfa, and part of Accomac, and connecting those towns to Onancock’s wastewater treatment plant, which has the capacity to treat 750,000 gallons per day.
Cape Charles has its own sewer system with the capacity to treat 250,000 gallons of wastewater per day. It uses about 150,000 gallons of that capacity every day.
HRSD would take over the sewer business, both service and billing, in each participating town.
Towns interested in joining HRSD must petition the second circuit court. Signing the petition is not an obligation to join HRSD if the petition is granted.
Murray announced that Cheriton, Eastville, and Nassawadox have already signed the petition.
Although HRSD will build the force main leading to the Onancock treatment plant, each town will be responsible for any upgrades to its collection system that will carry wastewater to the force main.
Exmore wants to upgrade its collection system to offer sewer service to the whole town, as many as 900 connections. It’s currently limited to 350 connections.
But joining HRSD will disqualify the town from receiving government grants or loans that would make the project affordable.
Murray plans to meet with the Exmore town council at their next meeting Dec. 2 about their “special need.”
The Cape Charles town council plans to meet Dec. 5 to discuss joining HRSD.
Northampton County supervisors will likely discuss and possibly vote on joining HRSD at their next meeting Dec. 10.
Murray said, “We do feel like that when you look at it as a possible regional opportunity, that it’s worth a lot of consideration.”