Arlington, VA

A pair of agreements on Saturday’s County Board docket could strengthen the ties between the water systems operated by Arlington and Fairfax counties.

One agreement would formalize an existing arrangement, in which each water system serves a few hundred of the other county’s customers. Arlington currently serves 369 Fairfax customers along Powhatan Street in the McLean/Falls Church area, while Fairfax serves 313 Arlington customers in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods.

An older agreement was formerly in place between Arlington and the City of Falls Church, before the latter system was acquired by Fairfax Water in 2014. The new agreement would codify the existing arrangement. A county staff report says that about $4,000 changes hands annually to adjust for differences in water usage between the cross-jurisdictional customers.

The second agreement would have a more tangible outcome.

It calls for construction of a nearly $3 million water main between the two water systems, under Powhatan Street in Fairfax County. Arlington would pay just over $2 million of the cost, but the new, 16-inch transmission pipe would be maintained by Fairfax County.

The new infrastructure would serve as an emergency link between the Arlington and Fairfax County water systems, which get drinking water from different treatment plants. Fairfax County has two of its own plants, which source water from the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River. Arlington gets its water from the Washington Aqueduct, on the D.C./Maryland border, which sources its water from the Potomac.

While Arlington has several redundant transmission mains running under the Potomac and Chain Bridge from D.C., the aqueduct is its sole water source.

“The Powhatan Street Main project is budgeted in the Utilities portion of the Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan,” notes the county staff report on the agreement. “Sufficient funds are available in the Utility Construction Fund to provide for the construction of this project.”

With Fairfax County funding the pipe’s maintenance, “the only future costs would be the wholesale cost of water purchased during times of emergency, which would be funded from the Utilities Fund operating budget.”

More from the staff report:

In or about 2005, a project was completed by Arlington County and the City of Falls Church that placed into service within the former City of Falls Church water distribution system approximately 2,050 feet of 16-inch water main on North Powhatan Street from North Rockingham Street to just south of Franklin Cluster Court (the “Phase I Main”). Fairfax Water and Arlington desire that Fairfax Water design and construct an extension to the existing Phase I Main (“Powhatan Street Project”). The Powhatan Street Project would consist of the construction of a 16-inch water main that would tie into the Phase I Main and extend it approximately 3,000 feet along Powhatan Street to connect to Fairfax Water’s existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road (“Powhatan Street Main” and, together with the Phase I Main, the “Powhatan Transmission Main”). Upon completion of the Powhatan Street Project, the Powhatan Transmission Main would connect the Fairfax Water System and the Arlington Water System in this location for use in emergency situations and as described in the attached agreement.

Fairfax Water will procure engineering and construction services for the design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main along Powhatan Street from the existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road to the existing 16-inch water main south of Franklin Cluster Court. The design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main will include all necessary meters, valves and other required appurtenances. Arlington will pay a percentage of the costs associated with the design and construction.

Fairfax Water will own, operate, maintain and repair the Powhatan Transmission Main at its sole expense. The Powhatan Transmission Main will be a part of the Fairfax Water System.

This project provides redundancy for Arlington County’s water supply in case of emergency. Currently, its sole water supply is from the Washington Aqueduct.

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