Frederick Water vs. Stephens City

three quarries west of Stephens City are used as water supply sources by Frederick Water
three quarries west of Stephens City are used as water supply sources by Frederick Water
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The Town of Stephens City signed contracts with the Frederick County Sanitation Authority in 1991 to supply drinking water and treat wastewater. The authority built a new wastewater treatment plant, and in exchange the town authorized the authority to withdraw three million gallons/day of water from three quarries on the west side of Stephens City.

According to the town, the contract expired after 20 years. The authority, now known as Frederick Water, claims its access to the quarries does not expire. The town stopped paying the authority for water and sewer services in 2015, claiming Frederick Water had withdrawn excessive amounts of water from the quarries. In retaliation, the authority stopped paying Stephens City for the water it withdrew from the quarries.1

The town also tried to block access to the Bartonsville Well, which was providing 350,000 gallons per day of raw water. Stephens City claimed it had the right to shut off the well because it was within the town's Source Water Assessment Program Overlay District, even though the town did not own the well and it was located outside the town's boundaries. 2

the Water Source Protection Area (blue line) includes the western half of Stephens City (shaded brown) plus land in Frederick County near the quarries
the Water Source Protection Area (blue line) includes the western half of Stephens City (shaded brown) plus land in Frederick County near the quarries
Source: Frederick County GIS, Town of Stephens City

In 2018, Frederick Water asked a Circuit Court judge for authority to cut off the water supply to Stephens City. The town had no alternative source of drinking water. It had floated the idea of purchasing water from the City of Winchester, but no action had been taken.

The town argued that the Virginia Department of Health would not allow a cut-off of service to 2,000 people. Frederick Water suggested it was not really planning to close the drinking water valves, but was obliged to file suit in order to protect its claim for the town's overdue payments for sewer and water services.3

Dueling lawsuits revealed that Frederick Water had withdrawn as much as six million gallons/day from the quarries, exceeding the six million gallons/day authorized in the disputed contract. That revelation led the Winchester Star to editorialize:4

...cutting off water to a population that, naturally, includes the young, the indigent, and the infirm seems a step ?or even a threat ?needlessly drastic. Especially when documentary evidence indicates your hands are wet with water that does not belong to you.

Sources of Northern Virginia Drinking Water

The Water War Between Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church

Winchester and Stephens City are both located west of the Shenandoah River, away from that obvious water source
Winchester and Stephens City are both located west of the Shenandoah River, away from that obvious water source
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Links

References

1. "Stephens City announces position on water dispute," Northern Virginia Daily, July 31, 2015, http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2015/07/stephens-city-announces-position-on-water-dispute/ (last checked June 11, 2018)
2. "Town抯 injunction bids against Frederick Water denied," Winchester Star, October 28, 2017, http://www.winchesterstar.com/news/frederick_county/town-s-injunction-bids-against-frederick-water-denied/article_20451ac9-8638-5354-a104-94565f76eeef.html (last checked June 11, 2018)
3. "Water authority seeks to stop Stephens City services, wants damages," Northern Virginia Daily, February 23, 2018, http://www.nvdaily.com/news/local-news/2018/02/water-authority-seeks-to-stop-stephens-city-services-wants-damages/ (last checked June 11, 2018)
4. "Our Views: Riparian raiding? Map, FCSA numbers tell story," Winchester Star, June 8, 2018, http://www.winchesterstar.com/opinions/our_view/our-views-riparian-raiding-map-fcsa-numbers-tell-story/article_e812054e-70ed-5771-99d2-c11bcc90c871.html (last checked June 11, 2018)

Frederick Water manages both drinking water and wastewater facilities
Frederick Water manages both drinking water and wastewater facilities
Source: Frederick Water, Our Water System


Drinking Water in Virginia
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