Council Approves Contract with Fairfax Water
Town of Vienna will receive all water from the utility after a connection line project is completed
The Town of Vienna will receive all of its water from Fairfax Water by 2015, according to an agreement Town Council approved with the water utility at its Monday meeting.
In the contract, Fairfax Water agrees to provide the town with 2.9 million gallons per day at a rate of $1.98 per 1,000 gallons of consumption.
"All along what we have wanted was the best possible service and wholesale rate for our Vienna residents, and I think we are coming to that," Mayor Jane Seeman said at Monday's meeting.
The agreement passed unanimously; Councilmember Laurie DiRocco absent.
Monday's agreement with Fairfax Water is effective Oct. 1 when the utility will begin providing 35 percent of the town's water at the $1.98/1,000 gallons rate. Falls Church's system, Washington Aqueduct, will continue to provide the rest of the town's water at its current rate of $2.18 per 1,000 gallons of consumption until a water line connection project is completed to connect to Fairfax Water. The connection project along Gosnell Road is estimated to take between 18 months and two years.
If Fairfax Water and Falls Church come to an agreement within 10 years, the town will receive a credit for any unnecessary infrastructure built.
Vienna will pay $15,100,516 over 50 years for capacity in the treatment plant and for the connection project. The town will make monthly payments of $51,425.
Customers will continue to pay $4.75 per 1,000 gallons for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.
"The Town has been working diligently to find the best way to reduce water rates for its customers and this agreement puts the Town in the position to do this in the long term," Town Manager Mercury Payton said in a statement. "We will continue to seek opportunities to reduce the cost of water to our customers, while continuing to provide safe, reliable drinking water."
Councilmember Carey Sienicki asked her fellow councilmembers to add clarification the town will be protected from charges when other wholesale customers experience an "extraordinary expense charge." The agreement already protects them from incurring retail customers' extraordinary expense charges.
Charles Murray, general manager of Fairfax Water, said he anticipated adding the language would be agreeable to the utility, as it is a typical protection included in agreements with wholesale customers.
The approved agreement is contingent on language clarifying the section on extraordinary expense charges being added to the contract.
This agreement is separate from a lawsuit — which was put on a hold that has now expired — the town has against Fairfax County on water rates. The suit alleges a Fairfax County ordinance, passed in December, violates a Virginia law that governs water rates. The ordinance gave the county the power to approve or reject the rates municipalities charge to customers outside their corporate limits.
The Vienna suit cites state law that says municipalities, who have operated water services outside of its boundaries before July 1, 1976, can set its fees without consent of the overarching jurisdiction.
Fairfax Water is a public, nonprofit water utility governed by a 10-member Board of Directors, all of whom are appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.