If you thought the PSA was the only group that wanted to pump more human waste and raw sewage into Cape Charles, think again. The Joint Industrial Development Authority (JIDA) Board has come up with a design to bring raw industrial maritime sewage by launch (similar to how we now provide supply runs to ships moored outside the harbor), into town, and somehow deposit it into the Cape Charles waste water plant for processing.
Leading this effort for the JIDA is John Burdiss of Cape Charles, and Charles McSwain, Economic Development Director for Northampton County. The impetus for the plan is the fact that the Port Authority has recently restricted ship moorings on the Virginia Beach side of the CBBT, reserving those waters for Naval operations. Due to this development, there may be the possibly for an uptick in moorings outside of Cape Charles harbor. Though the JIDA has been in contact with the Virginia Maritime, as well as the Pilot’s associations, there is no confirmation of any increased traffic for Cape Charles at this time.
The JIDA, recognizing Cape Charles’ potential to absorb massive quantities of raw ship sewage, hopes to convert this potential swell of activity into local commercial gains. It is assumed that this economic impact will be realized by some entities being willing to provide pump out service to these vessels, and then ferry the waste back to Cape Charles. Given that in the past the town has been clamoring to obtain as much raw sewerage as possible, this effort, from JIDA’s perspective, appears to be a win-win for all parties.
Historical note: John Burdiss was part of the Town Council that pushed forward with the ill-fated, over-priced, oversized and underperforming Cape Charles waste water plant.
The JIDA initiative does put much of the current economic development landscape into perspective. The PSA, proposed zoning changes, and this new development from JIDA all attempt to use waste, or waste related activities as a central driver in the economic development road map. The Cape Charles waste water plant is the pivot point for all of these plans. What once may have appeared to be a series of separate, yet equally unfortunate events, viewed from on high, now appears to be part of a loosely orchestrated process. Those who witnessed just how the deal for the old Cape Charles High School went down should find all of this quite familiar.
That is not to say the waste water plant might not make money for some folks at some time in the future. Industrial maritime waste removal or even strip mall development on Route 13 can have a financial upside for entities involved in those sectors. Symbiotically, this also generates a modicum of business for the law partners that need to ensure that that their client’s contracts are cleansed and have the appearance of being above board. In this light, the context of the Cape Charles plant shifts once again—maybe it was never really meant to serve the citizens of the town, or purify the Bay, but instead serves as an agent for the industrialization and over-development of the lower Eastern Shore.
Where this will all lead is anyone’s guess, but some advice for the citizens of Cape Charles and the lower shore—you’re probably going to need bigger boots.