After hearing a request from citizen Christie Bowers to bring water to Happy Hollow Road, authority member Sam Dickson noted Virginia’s Self-Help Program might provide assistance in such cases, where the minimum bill for monthly service would otherwise exceed more than $100 per month.
Virginia’s Self-Help Program was initiated in 1998 by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. It is designed to help smaller communities meet the challenge of installing affordable water and waste-water systems. The program uses a community problem-solving, dollar-saving approach to bring running water to rural areas by relying on neighborhood volunteers and creativity.
Bowers told the PSA that citizens on Happy Hollow Road were still interested in county water. She said tests were conducted and figures were worked up after a previous request there, but the costs were “way high.” She said the water situation on Happy Hollow Road is getting worse.
Bowers said 18 people signed a petition for service there previously. Engineer John Adams said the project would call for about 6,000 feet of water line.
“Based on 18 users, the monthly debt service to make it balance was $112.83 per user,” Adams said. “(The estimated total cost of the project was $245,367). That was an estimate done in August of 2007. It would probably be a little more now.”
Dickson noted that the new authority members made a commitment to try to get water and sewer lines everywhere it could. During a meeting in Richmond, Dickson said he found out about the Self-Help Program.
“You might have seen in the past, (former) Gov. (Mark) Warner in a ditch helping put in a line. That is basically what it is, the people and others interested actually doing the work to get the water there,” Dickson said. “So I would suggest that we look at this avenue a little further and put Happy Hollow Road down as a prime place to start this. Maybe that would be a test run to see how it would work.”
Dickson then made a motion for the authority to look at the Self-Help Program, starting with Happy Hollow Road.
Hutchins said the program would most likely involve people that live in the area helping to bury pipe, among other associated requirements.
“And maybe the PSA then could do some of the ditch opening and closing, and of course we would have to have some engineering on it,” Hutchins said. “But in doing that, it might be an opportunity to reduce that cost significantly to where it would pay for itself. This authority has clearly understood that the people of Carroll County want us to move to try to get facilities to them where we can.”
Hutchins said the low-traffic count on Happy Hollow Road would make it conducive for such a project. He asked Bowers to talk to her neighbors and see if they would be interested in helping. Then the PSA could look at what it could do to help with the project.
Authority member Manus McMillian added that Bowers might want to see if any of her neighbors could provide skilled labor to assist with such a community project.
“I know that will be a key thing to have skilled labor, and we are pretty fortunate in Carroll County that either your neighbor or somebody in your family has got a backhoe,” McMillian said.
Dickson said part of the program would probably include the PSA providing equipment such as a backhoe.
Bowers said the water is not drinkable on Happy Hollow Road, adding that you can’t wash any clothes there due to iron in the water and the sulphur smell.
“It is getting worse. There is one (resident) that said they had a softener, which we did at one time, but they said they would be interested in public water,” Bowers said. “Most all the houses are going to laundromats and bottled water.”
During Authority Time, Hutchins said citizens demand the county move forward and find more efficient ways to do business. Authority members recently heard from Gov. Tim Kaine that both the state and Virginia’s counties will have to find creative ways to do things more efficiently and effectively.
“I know there are some projects out there that don’t always carry their own weight,” Hutchins said. “We are going to look at those. I think there are also some projects that have been promised that didn’t happen. We will look at those very shortly and see what we can do.”
Hutchins said he didn’t think Carroll County has ever looked at the Self-Help Program, but said it is a very exciting possibility.
“I would like for all those places, if it is another 500 feet or 100 yards that we can pick up 8 or 10 people that do not have adequate water, that we look at that and try to (move forward),” Hutchins said. “Sometimes you can do a lot of things yourself. If we depend on others, oftentimes we can’t afford it, so I would just like for us to try to find some ways to be more efficient and effective.”