Coming out of a lengthy closed session with the Falls Church City Council last night, a statement from the Office of the City Manager today indicated that the City of Falls Church received nine responses from water industry leaders to the Request for Expressions of Interest (REI).
The statement continued, “The substance of the responses will remain confidential as Council reviews and evaluates all options for the future status of the water and sewer systems, including maintaining the status quo. The nine respondents include American States Utility Services, Aqua Virginia, Corix Infrastructure, Fairfax Water, Government Services Group, United Water, and Virginia American Water.
“The Falls Church City Council is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of options for the future of City water and sewer systems, with the goal of providing the best possible stewardship of the City’s utility assets on behalf of its taxpayers and customers. The City issued the REI on February 13 to seek input from qualified utility entities that may have an interest in entering into an agreement for the purchase of the City’s utility assets. The options under consideration include sale to a public or privately owned utility operator, creation of a new water authority, and maintaining the current ownership structure.”
F.C. Mayor Nader Baroukh said in the statement, “I am pleased by the strong expressions of interest from national and regional leaders in the water and wastewater field. The Council will use this valuable input to evaluation options going forward.”
The City has operated a successful public water supply system since the 1930s, growing significantly beyond the City’s borders. The City’s total service area is approximately 33 square miles, with 34,500 accounts and annual revenues of approximately $20 million. The City is a wholesale customer of the Washington Aqueduct, which provides drinking water for the City of Falls Church, Arlington County, and District of Columbia. The City water system delivers an average of 17 million gallons of water to its customers each day, with a maximum capacity of approximately 38 million gallons per day. More information about the City Water and Sewer Systems is available via the City’s website, www.fallschurchva.gov/WaterFuture.
Over the coming months, the Council will engage in a deliberative process with key stakeholders and industry leaders to chart out the future of its water and sewer systems. A sale of the water system would require approval by City voters by referendum. Should that be the preferred option, it is possible that a referendum for sale of the system could be before the voters at the Nov. 6, 2012 General Election.