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Votes

Seeking Options For Waterline

THE GFCA and Water Authority look for alternatives to extending the waterline

The Great Falls Citizens Association is promoting alternatives to the extension of the waterline for the Riverside Manor well system improvement project. GFCA president David Olin said, during an executive board meeting, ÒWe [have been] given direct authority to open a dialogue with the Water Authority. We want to make it a dialogue that is functional.Ó

Fairfax Water (previously the Water Authority) is intent on going forward with the project because the existing well that services that subdivision is subject to drought and has been found to have trace levels of radon in the water and well structure. It is the last well being operated by the county and serves only the homeowners in Riverside Manor, off Arnon Chapel Road.

The project will extend 1.6 miles along Walker Road and Arnon Chapel Road. In December 2003, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved Fairfax Water AuthorityÕs 2004 Capital Improvement Program, part of which includes $768,000 for improvements to the Riverside Manor well system.

The board of directors for Fairfax Water voted on Oct. 7 to adopt a resolution that authorizes spending money to design the waterline. Members of the GFCA attended that meeting. According to Jean Bailey, at Fairfax Water, the design phase is expected to take several months and to incorporate environmental concerns, such as the possibility of losing trees along the route.

Dranesville District supervisor Joan DuBois has been in support of the project. DuBois said, ÒPeople confuse water and sewer out there and think one leads to the other.Ó

One of the suppositions put forward by the GFCA is that extending the waterline can lead to extending the septic system, which many residents feel would lead to an increase in the housing density of the area.

Additionally, the GFCA has a long history of opposing the extension of water service in the area. Beginning in the 1970s, the Water Authority proposed a large water treatment facility at the end of Seneca Road. Members of the GFCA were in strong opposition to that and found an alternative site in Loudoun County, which they helped push through the Board of Supervisors.

Later, when the Falcon Ridge Development was being built, the developer, Edward Carr, asked for 13,000 feet of 12-inch water main to be constructed down Walker Road to give the subdivision access to public water. That request was initially approved, but after strenuous objection by the GFCA, it was overturned.

In more recent times. Riverbend Country Club asked for the GFCA to support its request to extend the waterline from Great Falls Elementary School, the current end point, to the private club. The GFCA opposed that extension as well.

To date, the only project that the GFCA has supported in regard to extending the waterline was to the elementary school. The line was brought down Walker Road to the school in order to bring it into compliance with fire sprinkler regulations. However, the GFCA insisted that the line be reduced from a 12-inch pipe to an 8-inch waterline.

In a recent letter to Fairfax Water, Kathleen Foley with the GFCA said, ÒTo hold true to our basic tenets, we have tried to mitigate finished water north of Georgetown Pike. For example, finished water to Great Falls Elementary School was mitigated by the fact that it did not promote increased development or increased density of use. In contrast, Riverbend Country Club may be able to significantly increase membership by tapping into the proposed waterline. This increased intensity of use, in turn, will lead to the adverse impact of greater traffic and septic demand.Ó

Olin said that continued discussions with Fairfax Water are Òopening the dialogue for the bigger picture ... of preserving the density.Ó

He maintains that all the issues have not been worked out and that the main parties involved have not yet come to a consensus on what the nucleus of the issue is. ÒThere is some difference of opinion, it seems, as to what the driving force with the Water Authority is,Ó said Olin.

Foley added, ÒThey are not even sure they have the right of way. That gives us some time.Ó

GFCA board members stress the need to find a solution that works for everyone. ÒWe are in no way interested in denying any Great Falls residents basic water services,Ó said Foley.

DuBois has said that she supports the Riverside Manor residents in their quest to hook into public water. That development has been there for many years, and homeowners were unaware of any potential problems when they purchased their properties.

Dianne Van Volkenburg, a local real estate agent and GFCA board member, brought up the fact that there are several acres of undeveloped land within Riverside Manor that could potentially exploit the county-funded access to water. Van Volkenburg stated there are 49 acres of green space in that development. ÒThereÕs one for 2.7 acres that is owned by a development corporation,Ó Van Volkenburg said.

Olin said this is the type of situation that the GFCA is intent on preventing. ÒWe are not talking about one or two houses. We are talking about down the road,Ó said Olin. ÒWe have some decisions and discussions to make,Ó Olin said.