Roanoke Times
August 20, 1954

Blacksburg Water Supply Hearing Slated September 1

Tech, Town Hope To Make Decision On Proposal for New River Source

Blacksburg, Aug. 19 -- Blacksburg and Virginia Tech hope to climax a 20-year water supply problem Sept. 1 when hearings are to be held concerning the establishment of a town-college water authority to bring a plentiful supply from New River.

Members of the Tech board of visitors will hold their hearings at 2 p.m. in Burruss Hall and the Town Council its hearings at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

The question is a big one, and the town is doing its best to keep citizens informed of steps being taken. This week, the council mailed out a summary of past actions towards providing both the college and the town with adequate water.

According to that summary, Blacksburg's search for water has been a long and, for the most part, almost fruitless quest since the early 1930's.

Before 1932, the town bought water from Virginia Tech; then the town officials bought the first of three springs which now provide the town supply. Spring No. 2 was added in 1934 and spring No. 3 in 1941.

As the problem became greater, the town drilled a well on the Town Hall lot to a depth of 350 feet in 1946; the well failed to produce a usable source of water. Two more drilling efforts were made, both in 1952, and both failed to produce water. A well 650 feet deep was drilled at the first spring and a 450 foot well was later drilled at the second.

Both the town and college have had independent engineering surveys made to determine the best adequate source of water. None has produced results that appeared satisfactory. The town did, however, increase its reservoir capacity to make full use of the three springs.

Tech has lent the town a helping hand for the past three or four years. During that time, Blacksburg has got about 50,000 gallons a day for some five months of the year. Tech has been able to provide that water during the summer when enrollment is low.

Then, last year the town and college jointly employed an engineering firm to recommend a possible source of supply -- for each separately and for the two jointly. The engineer recommended that the water be secured jointly from New River, the only adequate source.

The summary continues:
"A joint water supply can, it is believed, be best operated by a water authority. Such an authority is a non-profit, non-taxable corporation which will secure an adequate supply of water to be sold to the town and to VPI on a wholesale basis."

The five members who will make up the authority have already been appointed, one by the town, one by the college and the others jointly. They are John M. Kessler, the town representative; John C. Martin, the college representative, and R. F. Plank, C. E. Seitz and H. S. Bishop. Seitz and Bishop will serve for two years each, while the others will serve for four years.

Approximate cost of the project, which will include a 12-mile line to the river and an up-to-date filtration plant, is to be $1,250,000.

It will be the first time in Virginia for a municipality and a state institution to undertake such a project.


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