Next-door neighbors Stella Jackson and Todd Johnson are friends, but that doesn’t mean they agree on everything.
They certainly don’t share the same opinion of the city of Suffolk’s decision to connect main water to about 15 Everets Road homes, including theirs.
While Jackson welcomes the fact she’ll no longer rely on well water from nearby Little Bethel Baptist Church, Johnson, after spending big about 14 years ago on a deep well inside his yard, would prefer not to have to pay the mandatory costs of city water.
Each property owner will pay a $3,370 connection fee, after an incentive reimbursement, and bi-monthly service charges of $112 for the average customer, according to Al Moor, the city’s public utilities director.
The city is connecting water after receiving 12 responses, nine in favor, from a survey of 15 property owners late in the summer of 2011, Moor said, which exceeded the minimum response rate of 51 percent with two-thirds supportive.
Workmen are “testing, flushing and chlorinating” a 12-inch main that’s already installed, Moor said, ahead of sending out connection notices in about the next six weeks.
“What really prompted the petition process was the desire of the church and the folks connected to that one well to get city water,” Moor said.
Connection to the church well costs each property about $25 per month, Stella Jackson said.
“I don’t see there’s a negative about it right now,” she said of the project. “Eventually it’s going to happen, plus the water pressure will be greatly improved.”
But her neighbor says he already has enough trouble making ends meet. “I had to pay $5,000 to sink a deep well … (because) the church wouldn’t guarantee water supply,” Todd Johnson said.
“Now I have to pay for something I don’t want. … I have a big problem with this. … I can’t afford this house now, so I’m making preparations before selling, and this may push me to walk away from the house.”
While Jackson and Johnson both say the well water is good to drink — Jackson, despite her support of city water, even says she plans to stock up on bottled water ahead of the switch-over — Moor pointed to the “high fluoride content” of Eastern Virginia deep wells.
“City water meets all drinking water regulations, including fluoride,” Moor said.
Five-year financing is available for the balance of the connection fee after the rebate, with a $250 down payment and interest based on the prime rate as of July 1.
“If a property owner qualifies for the city’s tax relief program, the same percentage reduction is applied to their connection/availability charges,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Moor said the city is reviving other water projects, including some petitioned in the early 2000s. He cited projects in Crittenden/Eclipse, Turlington Park and Lake Speight.