After decades of discussion, construction on a sewage treatment plant and dispersal fields to serve properties in Catlett and Calverton will begin imminently, according to project manager Tim Harms of Downey & Scott Construction Management Services. The project is scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
An entrance to the construction site has already been built, Harms said, and all Virginia Department of Transportation permits are in place. After a pre-construction meeting among the contractor - English Construction - and representatives of state and local government agencies, construction will begin. No date has been set for that meeting, but Harms said it would occur “soon” and that other preparations were being made behind the scenes.
Approximately 111 homes and businesses are currently set to utilize the septic tank effluent pump low-pressure sewage system. With this system, each individual lot will have a holding tank for sewage, a screen chamber and a small, high-pressure pump within the tank. The liquid waste is pumped through the small pressure sewer lines to the wastewater treatment plant, which will be located near the intersection of Catlett Road and Casanova Road. The system is designed to accommodate the needs of approximately 300 structures.
Discussion about the need for a sewage system in the Catlett-Calverton area has been ongoing since at least the 1960s. “There’s a really shallow rock layer; and on top of that, the soil – there’s a lot of clay,” Harms explained. “There’s not a lot of room for drain fields,” For these reasons, septic tank failures have occurred regularly in the area.
In a June 12 newsletter to Catlett and Calverton property owners, Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District) said that, as he understands it, the current project is the 14th attempt by county government to solve the sewage issue in those areas.
The total cost of the project is $11.4 million. Of that, the county government is contributing $4.3 million in cash funding, with the remainder coming from a $7.1 million loan from the state’s revolving loan fund, according to Deputy County Administrator Erin Kozanecki.
In 2015, county supervisors approved a 21-page ordinance governing rates and other aspects of the project. Within 300 feet of the sewer, all buildings for which sewage disposal is required must connect to the new system unless the property owner can establish that the existing septic system meets health department regulations.
The county may also grant a waiver to property owners for whom the financial cost of connecting to the system would cause “undue hardship” to the owner. Structures built as part of any future developments within the service district must connect to the sewer system if the dwellings are within 300 feet of the public system and there is no existing septic system on the property.
The ordinance established that property owners connecting to the system will pay $26,000 upon the availability of the system, plus the cost of building the connection from the structure to the main sew line.
For residential properties whose owners granted a permanent easement to the county during an incentive period in 2015, a lien of $18,000 will be placed on the property; in this case, payment is due upon sale of the property. A base utility fee of $52 per month will be charged to the owners of all properties in the Catlett and Calverton service districts, regardless of whether those properties are connected to the sewer system.
According to a 2018 analysis from Andrew Hopewell, the county’s assistant chief of planning, the project should produce a $9.9 million return of investment for the county over 20 years. Over that period, the analysis projected $5.3 million in revenue from sewer tap fees, $1.1 million in real estate tax from existing structures and $3.5 million in revenue from taxes on new development.
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