The following is submitted by Ken Dufty, who argues against using the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
In fight to protect what you love and believe in, it is a general rule that if, at the finish line, you are not victorious in your mission or goal, you have only lost if you have not taken your best shot.
And our “best shot” to protect the ESVA from a Court-sanctioned build-out of a regional sewer owned and managed (and billed by) a political subdivision from outside our borders and over which we will have absolutely no control was about as good as anyone could muster.
On Friday morning, we orally argued to Judge W. Revell Lewis, presiding that morning over Accomack County Circuit Court in the Accomac Chambers that we did not think it was a good idea to move forward with allowing HRSD to begin establishing a presence on the ESVA until a full environmental impact study was conducted and after that study was completed, we held that the public should be fully involved in assessing the conclusions of that report.
Next, we argued that we, like the citizens across the Bay when the HRSD was presented on the ballot, should be able to go to the polls and register either our support or opposition to this project and its implications. I have attached a draft copy of some of the comments we read in that proceeding.
While Accomack County officials asked the Judge at the conclusion of that proceeding to rule that Accomack COunty be allowed into the District, the Judge ruled that he wanted to hear from Northampton County later that afternoon, a public hearing slated for 2 pm in the Eastville Circuit Court Chambers. So we were happy, and thank Sandy Beerends, the only other voice to object to HRSD’s proposal to set up house on the ESVA and take control of our wastewater infrastructure. Down we went…and this proceeding was a bit different. Remember HRSD’s enabling legislation specifically said that the court-sanctioned public hearings on any addition to the HRSD service territory was only to hear OBJECTIONS to any expansion of the district.
Spencer Murray implored Judge Lewis to greenlight HRSD, claiming we need it for “economic” development.
I followed and read our comments and reminded the judge, among other comments, that HRSD was created for the express reason of responding to and abating the pollution of surface waters due to sewage failure and nutrient loading……of which we have none on the ESVA. We submitted the September 30, 2020 DEQ inspection report regarding an exhaustive investigation of the Riverside WWTP in Nassawadox, and explained that while this plant had small exceedances of copper and had some minor reporting glitches, it was basically operating within its permit limits.
But John Coker followed my remarks and cautioned the Judge not to listen to fear tactics and again reiterated that this was a once in a lifetime chance to take advantage of the regional sewer services that will help promote economic development.
Both testified to the Judge that HRSD was only here to “help us out” and we should not pass up this opportunity.
Sandy Beerends also reiterated her opposition to HRSD coming onto the SHore, and David Boyd delivered a compelling and heartfelt testimony that HRSD was not needed and appeared to have been solicited to come here as a result of Riverside’s and Onancock’s desire to get out of the sewage treatment business.
Granville Hogg also addressed the Court and said that it appeared as if the Northampton County Board of Supervisors seemed to know very little about the real facts surrounding the proposal to turn over our regional wastewater services to HRSD, and implored the Judge to take the harder look which is required by law.