Thursday, March 29, 2018

Letter to the Chesapeake Planning Commission Regarding Aqua Virginia

Dear Planning Commissioners,

We are writing to ask you to approve the 2232 Review of the plans for the acquisition of Aqua Virginia's Indian River Water System and incorporating it into the City's water system.  We believe this is wholly consistent with the City's Comprehensive Plan and an urgent necessity for health, quality of life, and economic well-being of residents of the Indian River area.

The Aqua Virginia Indian River Water System has been a long running issue for our community and the focus of a persistent effort - and anger - from local residents.  This Water System was initially built in the 1950's and is effectively beyond its design life.   Nearly 20 years ago, the City of Chesapeake missed the opportunity to purchase the water system and since then the system and the water quality has continued to deteriorate.  As highlighted in the newspaper article below, residents have been plagued by practically undrinkable water.  This community in the City's "urban overlay" lacks fire hydrants.  And it is not possible to redevelop the blighted Indian River Shopping Center because water pressure is inadequate to install fire sprinklers in any new construction.

The Friends of Indian River have been working with the City to resolve this issue since our founding 6 years ago.  When the City announced Agreement in Principle to purchase the Aqua Virginia's Indian River Water System at a Public Meeting in the community on February 22, there were literally cheers from the audience.  Residents who never believed they would get safe, clean water from their taps now had hope.  This acquisition is strongly and broadly supported in the community and we have urged the City to move forward diligently and expeditiously.

We believe the acquisition of the water system directly supports the Comprehensive Plan Objective to "Extend public water and sewer services to existing development in the Public Utilities Franchise Area." (page 116).   It also supports the strategy to "foster the revitalization, preservation, and redevelopment of older neighborhoods and commercial corridors" (page 83) and "proactively support appropriate redevelopment and infill development opportunities, particularly in areas of the City that are un-served or under-served for retail services such as grocery stores, restaurants and other shopping amenities" (page 24).   

We need this acquisition and ask you to approve this review of the plan.  Otherwise we are abandoning the community to brown tap water, higher fire risk, and a blighted shopping center.

Thank you,
Rogard Ross
Friends of Indian River

""We don't drink the water": Chesapeake homeowners billed for water they're afraid to use", By Katherine Hafner, The Virginian-Pilot, Apr 2, 2016
"Chesapeake officials deserve kudos for digging deep to improve water service", by Roger Chesley, The Virginian-Pilot, Feb 26, 2018

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