Gloucester supervisors seek to improve county’s ailing public utilities

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Mar 16, 2011 - 03:35 PM

Following a lengthy discussion Tuesday night, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors began to make headway toward improving Gloucester’s ailing public utilities department. Marty Schlesinger, director of public utilities, spent more than an hour listing the department’s needs during a special work session between the supervisors and the Utilities Advisory Committee held in the colonial courthouse.

Schlesinger explained, facility by facility, where processes are on the verge of failing or in need of repair, beginning with the water plant, located adjacent to Beaverdam Reservoir. The list seemed to go on and on. However, when Schlesinger told the board that the well in the basement of the water plant building had not been inspected in over three years, there was clear concern on the supervisors’ faces.

This well tank is encased in concrete and all of the water that the county treats runs through it. Schlesinger said that if the well fails inspection, it would have to be shut down until a temporary tank could be installed.

Asked how long a shutdown the facility could take before a loss of service, Schlesinger said, "We can only have a 24-hour shutdown of the water treatment plant." He also said, "Five thousand households would have to get by from what we can produce (with one well)."

Schlesinger explained that Gloucester’s system is not connected with any other system, so it could not temporarily receive service from Newport News or York County. "That has its advantages and disadvantages," Schlesinger added.

"Everything goes through the clear well, and we’re just not sure the condition of that clear well," he said.