Since 2015, SERCAP has been providing Technical Assistance (TA) to the Town of Port Royal in Caroline County, VA, in order to provide both temporary assistance and a long-term solution, to transform the Town’s dilapidated and fiscally distressed water system, to one with new facilities and a management approach that promotes fiscal and operational sustainability. As part of the Town’s continuing transformation, SERCAP was asked by USDA Rural Development and the Town to perform a rate study. To ensure the financial sustainability of the Town and its water system, water rates were changed from a “flat rate” billing system (one in which everyone pays the same amount for water, no matter how much they use) to a metered, consumption-based system that charges each customer for water based on the actual usage of their home or business. The study was completed in the Spring of 2020, and the new rate structure provides funding for reserve accounts for debt service, operations, and a new capital projects/improvements account. Additionally, the Town updated its water policies to accompany the change in rate structure and the establishment of a capital improvements/reserve account, all of which were adopted by the Town at a public hearing in late June of 2020.
SERCAP’s work with the Town, however, is not done. In October of 2020, SERCAP began a GIS (Geographical Information System) project for the Town, collecting GPS (Global Positioning System) data to map the Town’s water system assets. This included reaching out to the Town’s consulting/design engineer to acquire engineering data in CAD (Computer Aided Design) format and importing that data into the mapping software. On-site work began in November of 2020 and consisted of using a GPS receiver to verify (and frequently correct the positioning of) assets such as water meters and distribution system valves on the map. The GPS map and asset data within the GIS will be used to develop an Asset Management Plan (AMP) for the Town, allowing the Town to more fully understand the long-term financial needs for the water system and aid the Town with its future financial and managerial decision making.
Without SERCAP’s Technical Assistance to communities, and other similar programs and services, many rural communities and low-income individuals would be forced to go without such necessities as reliable access to clean drinking water, community development needs, water/ wastewater infrastructure solutions, safe and affordable housing, indoor plumbing, and more. It is important to remember that even in the US in the 21st Century; there are those who do not have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water, environmentally sound septic facilities, and affordable housing. In order to help SERCAP continue to provide assistance to both the individuals and communities in need, please consider making a donation to SERCAP’s Water Life! Fund!
*Funding for SERCAP’s Regional Department is made possible by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Community Services’ (OCS) Grant, USDA RD’s Technitrain Program, the Drinking Water Compliance Grant through the EPA, and the EPA Private Well Grant. Additionally, all of SERCAP’s programs in Virginia, are leveraged by a Budget Appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD).