Town of Cape Charles Responds to Op-Ed

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Dear Editor:

The town of Cape Charles would like to thank the author of the Feb. 4 Post oped, for drawing attention to a very important community discussion, the potential sale of the town’s water and wastewater utilities to a professional utility company. This op-ed urged Cape Charles residents to learn more about this possibility, to participate in the upcoming town hall meetings (Feb. 16 and 19), and to let the Town Council know what they think. The op-ed also suggested the need for an open-minded approach, free from preconceived conclusions on either side, where all options can be considered on their merits. I couldn’t agree more with all of that!

However, this opinion piece also touched on a couple of questions that deserve a brief comment. The first was a question regarding the safety of our drinking water. Let me nip that one in the bud. The town’s drinking water is perfectly safe to drink and meets all DEQ requirements. The issue that was raised regarding water quality referred to a recent community survey, where residents told us they were dissatisfied with the taste and clarity of our water. The company under consideration for this acquisition offered a plan to improve both, without raising rates. So yeah, that is something we should probably take a look at.

The author of the op-ed also had some process related questions that I’ll try to address. Before any sale of our utilities could happen, we’d have to sit down and negotiate a comprehensive agreement with that company, covering a great many things. Since the Town Council has not yet decided to move on with this idea, this negotiation hasn’t even begun. So many of the specifics of a potential sale have yet to be determined. What we have been communicating so far is just the current “proposal” offered by the company. But nothing has been locked down yet, and before we’d consider moving on to a negotiation phase, we’d first want to hear what the public thinks and what is most important to them.

When projecting potential outcomes, we’ve tried to look 10 years down the road to see where we might wind up, whether we sell or if we keep the systems. The question was why not look 50 years ahead. Well because the further out you try to project, the less accurate you are likely to be. There are just too many unknown variables. Forecasting out five or even 10 years could be reasonably accurate, but going out more than that just wouldn’t produce credible data.

We are trying our best to explain as much as possible about this very complex topic. But there is so much information, we can’t really cover it all in just one letter or message. So we’ve been putting out a series of these messages and encourage everyone to look through them. They can be found on the Cape Charles town website in the quick links section on the main page. Then come out to one of the two town hall meetings and ask your questions. We will have our utility consultant and the utility company on hand for this discussion.

Both of these town hall meetings will cover the same information. We are just providing two options to better serve the public’s availability. Also, please understand that while these meetings will be carried on Facebook, the Civic Center does not have the audio equipment to pick up all of the informal conversations that occur during this type of meeting. So, in-person attendance is recommended.

Thanks to everyone for their time and interest as we continue this important community discussion.

John Hozey,
Cape Charles Town Manager

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