Highland County Board of Supervisors Updated on Monterey Water Issues and More
The Highland County Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, August 16th. The board adopted a proclamation to ratify the Declaration of Emergency for the Town of Monterey water system. The main message now is to conserve water. In order to drive home the message of conserving water, they then approved an Emergency Ordinance to remain in effect for thirty days for county users of the town water. The ordinance will make the use of water for any purpose other than normal household use a misdemeanor punishable with a fine up to $100. Examples include filling a swimming pool or watering the lawn.
Emergency Management Director, Harley Gardner, and Commonwealth Attorney Melissa Dowd, provided updates on the Monterey town water issue. The discussion included two tankers from the Department of Corrections bringing potable water on Thursday, August 17th to help bring the system back up to meet demand, yet this water will still need to be boiled by residents and may have higher levels of chlorine. In addition, the need for better communication to the public was discussed, and there will be press releases disseminated to the public after daily staff meetings at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Mr. Gardner urged that the public needs to be alerted more frequently to tune in to local radio during emergency situations for information.
In other news, the board reviewed correspondence from the Department of Environmental Quality in regards to Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project. Highland County is being invited to provide input to DEQ. President of Highlanders for Responsible Development, Lew Freeman, provided additional information for the board to consider when engaging with DEQ, requesting that they ask harder questions. The group is not recommending that the board do not enter in to a memorandum of agreement, but rather they have better, more specific information than what is currently available before making a decision.
The board also approved a request to purchase a fifty-three passenger school bus for Highland County schools based upon a five year payment plan. This request was from Superintendent Dr. Tom Schott as part of a continuing process to replace the entire bus fleet over a multi-year period. Dr. Schott also stated that the entire school system will be traveling to the Green Bank Observatory on Monday, July 21st to view the solar eclipse. He also commented that Highland County Schools will be opening and operating as scheduled with many workarounds to accommodate the Monterey town water issues, unless there is not enough water available for bathroom use.