Frequently Asked Questions
Can I schedule a tour of WCSA’s facilities?
Yes! We are delighted to give tours to any size group. Call our office to schedule.
What is WCSA?
The Washington County Service Authority (WCSA) is a water and wastewater utility in southwest Virginia, serving approximately 21,000 active water connections and approximately 2,300 wastewater connections in Washington County and surrounding areas. WCSA was originally chartered in 1953 as the Goodson Kinderhook Water Authority and then consolidated with the Washington County Sanitary District #1 in 1976. However, our roots go back to 1910 when the Abingdon Water and Light Utility was established.
Our goal is to provide exceptional water and wastewater service at a reasonable cost to our existing customers and to expand our water distribution and wastewater collection systems to provide these services to growing and unserved areas of the county.
Can I get an extension on my bill?
Yes. If you can’t pay your bill before disconnection of service, an extension form may be completed at our office or over the phone. All penalties and handling fees are still added to your account. The form requires you to give a date and time when your payment can be expected.
What is WCSA’s Governing Body?
Our utility is governed by a Board of Commissioners, whose members are appointed by the Washington County Board of Supervisors. The WCSA Board of Commissioners ordinarily meets the fourth Monday of each month in the E.W. Potts Board Room located at 25122 Regal Drive, Abingdon, Virginia. Board meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. For a schedule of meeting times, please call our office or visit our website at https://www.wcsawater.com.
How do I transfer service?
Please call our office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday- Friday. A non-refundable, $40 service charge will be applied to your first month’s billing.
How is WCSA Funded?
WCSA is not supported by tax revenues. Our cost of operations is supported solely through income generated from rates, fees
WCSA funds new water and wastewater system extension projects through grants and loans provided by agencies such as the Virginia Department of Health’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), the USDA Rural Development, and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Although WCSA applies for grant funding for specific projects, our projects are funded primarily through loans as WCSA
What is a User Agreement?
A User Agreement is a contract used to gauge interest in water or wastewater service in a specific area. The User Agreement is a formal commitment to purchase a connection if service becomes available. Persons who sign and return user agreements can “lock in” the connection fee listed on the agreement. At the time service becomes available they will pay the fee listed on the agreement, even if the price has increased.
What Does a Connection Fee Include?
For residential customers, the connection fee is a one-time fee assessed when a customer formally applies for service (when service is available to the property.) WCSA implements a two-part connection fee. This comprehensive fee consists of a tap fee, which covers the physical cost of making the tap into the system, setting the meter and processing the necessary paperwork; and a system fee, which is a portion of the cost to purchase the required amount of capacity to serve a new customer in WCSA’s existing water treatment and distribution systems.
When Do I Pay The Connection Fee?
When the project is complete and service becomes available, residents who have signed User Agreements can to come to our office and complete a New Service Application. Payment of the connection fee (or down payment) is required with the Application. After you have completed an application your meter will be installed and you may begin using water. Shortly thereafter, you will begin receiving a monthly bill. If available and you have chosen a financing option, the connection fee payment plan will be included on your bill each month. If you have purchased your connection but not yet began to utilize the water, your bill will include the monthly minimum charge. Once you begin to use the water, your bill will include both the monthly minimum charge plus the monthly variable charge which is based on your usage.
Where Does WCSA’s Water Come From?
WCSA takes raw water from the Middle and South Forks of the Holston River, two large springs (located in the Mill Creek and Taylor’s Valley communities) and from a well in Mendota. These raw sources are treated by effective methods and then pumped into the water system.
WCSA also purchases water from the Town of Saltville and expects to soon purchase water from Scott County Public Service Authority and Russell County Public Service Authority for the Mendota and Hidden Valley communities, respectively.
All of the water produced by WCSA must meet water quality requirements set by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the EPA. WCSA has consistently met and even surpassed these stringent requirements.
How Long Does A Water Project Take?
Planning and constructing a water system can be a lengthy process that can take two to as much as seven years to complete depending on many different factors. The following is the basic process WCSA follows to develop new projects:
1. WCSA is contacted by residents expressing their desire for a water line extension to serve the area. WCSA identifies one or more of these residents who are willing to serve as “Project Champions”. The Project Champions volunteer to go door-to-door soliciting User Agreements. Sometimes this step is in conjunction with or replaced altogether with Community Meeting(s) and Project Mailing(s).
2. Existing residents interested in water service must sign User Agreements indicating their commitment to purchasing a connection. Currently, more than 50% of the existing residents are required to sign the User Agreement for potential water projects before moving to step 3. Time to complete varies from one week to one year depending on the project champion and response from residents.
3. WCSA evaluates the user agreements to define the service area, determine the best means of serving the area, need of the project (contaminated and/or depleted private water supplies) and develops an estimated cost to construct. Time to complete this task varies from one month to one year if an outside consultant is required due to complexity and/or scheduling.
4. WCSA evaluates the proposed project to determine if it is financially feasible to construct the project. Time to complete this task varies from one month to two months.
5. If financially feasible, WCSA begins to identify and solicit funding for the proposed project. Funding offers are reported to the Board of Commissioners and action is required. Time to complete this task varies from six months to several years depending on many factors, some of which include availability of funding, competition for funding, total cost of project, need (mentioned in #3 above) of project and more.
6. When funded, WCSA will design the project or hire a consultant to design, depending on complexity and/or scheduling. Time to complete this task varies from six months to one year depending on complexity and scheduling.
7. When the proposed project is substantially designed, WCSA begins soliciting necessary easements and properties for the project and all required permits and approvals. Time to complete this task varies from six months to one year depending on complexity and/or scheduling.
8. When the proposed project design, easements, permits and approvals are complete, WCSA considers advertising the project for construction bids. Time to complete this task typically takes three to four months.
9. After bids are received for the proposed project they are evaluated by WCSA staff and a recommendation is made to the Board of Commissioners. Time to complete this task typically takes one to three months.
10. If bids are accepted by the Board a notice to proceed to construction is issued to the contractor(s) and construction begins. Time to complete this task varies from 3 to 12 months.
11. WCSA will notify residents at various points throughout the process.
Will WCSA Connect My House Plumbing to the Meter?
Installation of a service line from the meter to the residence is the customer’s responsibility. WCSA recommends that customers get estimates and compare prices before hiring someone to do this type of work. The customer is also responsible for installing a pressure reducing valve (PRV) on the customer’s side of the meter, and for locating and repairing any leaks that occur on the customer’s line between the residence and meter. All maintenance, repair, and replacement
Can I Continue to Use My Private Water Source After Connecting to the WCSA System?
WCSA customers are required to maintain a physical separation between any plumbing that provides water from a private source (wells, springs, etc.) and plumbing that provides water from the WCSA water supply. This means you can continue to use your well or spring water for other purposes as long as it has separate plumbing.
Can I Connect Two Houses or Buildings To The Same Water Meter?
A separate meter must be purchased for each additional structure. In order to reserve a connection at the current year’s connection fee, you must complete a User Agreement for each residence or structure for which you intend to purchase a connection.
Once a New Water Line is Installed, How Soon Must I Connect?
By signing the agreement, the property owner must agree that they will complete a New Service Application and pay the connection fee (or arrange for payment) within one (1) year of service becoming available to their property. If the property owner has not paid the connection fee or arranged for payment of the connection fee within one (1) year of service becoming available to their property, WCSA will take steps to collect the connection fee.
Once I complete the application, do I have to remain a customer?
By signing the agreement, the property owner agrees to maintain water service for a period of at least three years from the date the meter is installed.
Can I Sign a Water User Agreement For a Vacant Lot?
User Agreements are not solicited from owners of vacant properties; however, you may sign a User Agreement if you are committed to becoming a full-scale user of the water system. By signing the agreement, the property owner must agree that they will complete a New Service Application and pay the connection fee (or arrange for payment) within one (1) year of service becoming available to their property.
The Truth About Lead and Drinking Water: What You Should Know
What is lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring mineral that is found throughout our environment. It is produced and distributed through the burning of fossil fuels, mining
How does it get in the water?
Lead is not often found naturally in a water supply. WCSA source waters were tested for a variety of constituents before they were selected. It is very rare for
When lead is discovered in a water system, typically it comes from within the customer’s home and occurs via the process of leaching.
What is leaching?
Leaching occurs when water with high acidity levels or low mineral content reacts with
Leaching is of greater concern in areas where the water is corrosive. Our sources here in Southwest Virginia are generally not corrosive, and we work to ensure they remain that way. However, it is wise to be aware of the kinds of materials used in the construction of your home.
Does WCSA have any lead service lines?
WCSA is not aware of ANY lead service lines in our service area. If you are unsure about the line from the meter to your home, have it checked by a licensed plumber, and require a trip report.
As a homeowner, what do I need to be aware of?
Some houses, particularly those built between 1983 and 1986, may contain pipe, solder, flux or fixtures manufactured with
The Virginia Department of Health requires WCSA to identify these mid-1980s homes and regularly test their in-house lead levels. We are aware of 58 such homes among our customer base. Of these, 30 were evaluated in 2015. None had lead levels greater than the recommended action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), and of those tested, 80 percent were below the detection level of 2 ppb. In other words, 100 percent of these homes passed the test! This is good news for everyone in the WCSA’s service area.
I want to test the water coming into my home. How do I do that?
Customers who want their water checked for lead may contact us, and we will be glad to help coordinate a test. A lead sampling kit and certified lab testing, coordinated through WCSA, costs approximately $40.
Or, testing kits with directions are also generally available for $10-20 at home supply stores, such as Lowe’s, Amazon.com, Walmart and The Home Depot. After collecting the sample, it can be sent to a certified lab, such as Research Environment and Industrial Consultants, 226 Industrial Park Road, Beaver, West Virginia 25813. Testing costs are about $20. We encourage you to call ahead to confirm pricing and availability.
If you do have your water tested, please share the test results with WCSA. This helps us develop a broader picture of water quality throughout our service area.
If I find lead in my home’s water, how do I remove it?
If lead is present or you are uncertain whether it is present, contact a properly licensed plumber. Plumbers are able to help identify pipe, solder or fixtures containing lead. If a suspect fixture is found, have it replaced. Until work is complete, avoid using the hot water taps for cooking or drinking, and flush cold taps so that water that has been sitting in the pipe for prolonged periods (6 hours or more) is replaced with a fresh supply from the utility mains. This can take from a few seconds up to a
Hot water taps can be used for showering, as lead cannot be absorbed through the skin.
Where can I see the results of the WCSA’s water testing results?
WCSA summarizes our regular water testing results in our annual Consumer Confidence Report. This is mailed to customers each year and can also be accessed on our website.
For additional questions on this topic, please contact us at 276-628-7151. We’ll be glad to work with you to address your concerns.