At an estimated cost of $34 million, the brand new Smith Mountain Lake Water Treatment Plant will allow residents and businesses in Bedford County, the City of Bedford, and Forest to receive water from Smith Mountain Lake instead of Lynchburg. The project will combine and expand the Bedford County Public Service Authority (BCPSA) and the Town of Bedford water department and will be known as the Bedford Regional Water Authority (BRWA.)
Understandably, many SML residents and business owners have asked how this new plant will affect them. Below are a few frequently asked questions as answered by the BRWA:
- Will my rates increase? According to the BRWA, the answer is “not directly.” The BRWA will have rate adjustments through 2023 to balance the rate structures from both the BCPSA and the Town of Bedford.
- Did the BRWA try to negotiate current contract terms with the City of Lynchburg? The BRWA has been negotiating with Lynchburg over the last five years to get lower water rates. Through the discussions, Lynchburg did not offer to sell the BRWA water at a lower rate than what it would cost for the BRWA to produce a new water treatment facility.
- Will my taxes increase? The BRWA has no taxing power, and no such requests have been made by the Bedford County or the Town of Bedford.
- How will the average customer be affected? This project will allow more residential and commercial customers to connect to a new water line, and allow the Town of Bedford to have a backup source of water during a drought. The water source for Forest customers will change from Lynchburg to Smith Mountain Lake.
- Why is this project important? The BRWA project will allow a backup water source for the Town of Bedford, which was not available before. Also, the BRWA will be producing water instead of buying water from Lynchburg, which will save the BRWA $30 million dollars. This cost savings alone almost pays for the project itself. It also eliminates the need for an $8 million dollar waterline from Lynchburg to the Town of Bedford.
- How will this affect Smith Mountain Lake levels? According to the BRWA, the project “will have almost no impact on the lake levels.” The proposed withdraw equates to less than 1% of Smith Mountain Lake’s inflow. If there was zero inflow, the lake level would be lowered by 0.011 inches in a day.
The BRWA website offers insight into the entire process, from the initial planning stages through current project status including permits, reports, and legal documents. All information can be found at www.BRWA.com.