Water authority looks to new member, new name
Last week’s Blacksburg Town Council vote to let Montgomery County join the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-VPI Water Authority brings the county a step closer to a unified water system.
Next will be a Feb. 19 public hearing in Christiansburg, followed at that meeting or another by a town council vote that would be the last from the three bodies that make up the authority. Virginia Tech has already granted its blessing to the “joinder,” as the new authority agreement is called.
Then the merger will have to be OK’d by the State Corporation Commission, a process that authority executive director Jerry Higgins said might be unprecedented.
“We couldn’t find anybody that’s done it before,” Higgins said Friday.
Talks about the county joining the water authority have fizzled and restarted since the agency was formed more than a half century ago as the first of its kind. The board of supervisors initially balked at cooperating with the towns and university because members didn’t think operating utilities was a proper function for the county.
The position of the officials of that era was that “It was a rural area and didn’t need a centralized water supply,” Higgins said.
But later, having taken charge of an array of scattered, sometimes failing water systems, the county wanted to join the other bodies in drawing water from the New River at Peppers Ferry. The recent round of talks started when the towns required the county to adopt a comprehensive plan to direct future construction of water lines and other utilities. With that plan adopted, another four years of talks brought the localities to agreement.
Higgins said that if Christiansburg gives its approval to the joinder, the authority will change its name to the NRV Regional Water Authority – using initials so as to lessen confusion with the New River Regional Water Authority that draws from the river at Austinville.
“We don’t want to get each other’s mail,” Higgins said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1669
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