Huge Sewer Rate Increase Won’t Affect Bayshore Concrete

Town's largest potential water/sewer user, Bayshore Concrete Products, has never hooked up. (Wave photo)

Town’s largest potential water/sewer customer, Bayshore Concrete Products, uses private wells and septic tanks. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

June 27, 213

Cape Charles Town Council meets tonight (Thursday) to approve a budget with the biggest sewer rate increase in Town history. The minimum monthly sewer charge will rise from the current $35.45 to $60.85  – a 72 percent increase.

Town officials plead they have no other option than to drastically increase rates because there just aren’t enough users to create efficiencies at the Town’s new $19 million wastewater treatment plant.

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek, who also acted as the Town’s chief consultant for construction of the wastewater plant, wants to create efficiencies by pumping in sewage from out of town, beginning with commercial properties on Route 13.

But Panek is ignoring the Town’s biggest potential customer – Bayshore Concrete Products. Located only hundreds of yards from the new wastewater treatment plant, Bayshore has never hooked up to Town water or sewer pipes.

Bayshore’s treasurer, John Chandler, told the Wave that his company had not given any thought to using Town utilities. When asked whether they would consider it, Chandler said, “There has been no analysis done.”

Town residences and businesses generally are required to use Town water and sewerage, and the Bayshore plant is inside Town limits.

The Wave asked Panek why Bayshore had not been compelled to connect to Town utilities. Panek said the reason is because there are no Town water or sewer lines within 100 feet of Bayshore property.

Panek also said that he did not think Bayshore Concrete uses very much water.

A 2007 Town map indicates that Bayshore Concrete had eight wells and five septic tanks at that time.

Research by the Wave reveals that in 2006 the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) fined the Bayshore plant $39,000 for groundwater violations.


Back in 1996 there was a proposal for Bayshore to use treated Town wastewater in its concrete manufacturing process. An article by Karen Jolly Davis in the October 19, 1996, Virginian-Pilot states:

“Bayshore Concrete now pumps an estimated 100,000 gallons of groundwater each day to make its product. Big withdrawals like this — particularly from wells close to the shoreline — can cause saltwater intrusion into the drinking water aquifers. A recent study has shown that saltwater is much closer to the surface in the Cape Charles area than in other places on the Eastern Shore.

“The town’s wastewater treatment plant produces 150,000 gallons of cleaned water each day and pumps it into the harbor. [County official Tim] Hayes suggested saving groundwater by connecting the two with a pipeline so that the concrete plant can use the water that the sewage plant is dumping.”

It’s not known why nothing came of that proposal. But if the 1996 usage estimates are similar to today’s, requiring Bayshore Concrete to hook up to Town utilities could almost double the Town’s water and sewer volumes, resulting in a huge increase in efficiency.

The Town of Cape Charles annexed Bayshore Concrete in 1991 along with the Bay Creek resort properties. The annexation agreement states that “if awarded annexation of the Bayshore Property the Town will not extend public sewer or public water service lines to within 100 feet of Bayshore’s property line within ten years following the effective date of annexation unless a bonafide health emergency exists.”

So, according to the annexation agreement, the Town could have run pipes to Bayshore as long ago as 2001. The increased efficiencies could have brought lower water and sewer rates for Town residents and businesses for the past 12 years.

Why the Town failed to act in 2001, and continues to ignore Bayshore Concrete today, is an open question.

Although Bayshore has not “done an analysis,” it appears obvious that the Town’s high water and sewer rates are the reason it never hooked up.

Town utility rates for commercial users over 15,000 gallons per month are $5 per thousand gallons of water and $7.80 per thousand gallons of wastewater.

That equals $12.80 per thousand gallons. If Bayshore uses 100,000 gallons per day, its cost for Town water and sewer would be $1,280 per day.

The Town’s rate schedule discourages water consumption and sewerage by charging higher rates for increased use.

The Town borrowed money in 2010 to drill three additional wells but has never hooked up the wells due to lack of demand. Funds borrowed to hook up the wells were subsequently spent to purchase the Bank of America building for use as a library.



10 Responses to “Huge Sewer Rate Increase Won’t Affect Bayshore Concrete”

  1. John C Boytos on June 27th, 2013 7:38 am

    I want to know why this increase is being passed onto the citizens when (according to rumor) a REDUCED water/sewer hook up fee was given to the Bay Creek South company to build a PRIVATE beach club that non-members won’t even be able to use! Foster, who still owes millions to the town, is protected under this annexation agreement because there isn’t enough population in Bay Creek? The reason there is no population is because Foster and his realty team flipped and re-flipped lots, collecting commissions each time, with no time limitations in which to build. See a problem here? If it looks like…and it smells like….then it most likely is….!

  2. Jack Forgosh on June 27th, 2013 9:07 am

    Thank you for this great, informative article. Here are my thoughts: What a great win/win scenario to pipe treated water to Bayshore Concrete. I would think there may be federal money available for the necessary buildout which has significant long-term benefits to Cape Charles and to the shore and its residents. Thanks to the Cape Charles Wave for keeping lines of communication open!

  3. Mike Kuzma, Jr on June 27th, 2013 9:38 am

    Umm, if we FORCE the Concrete plant to hook up, and in the future they do some long-range planning, they may look back and wonder why they are there in the first place. And then move. Mr. Forgosh, it was the addiction to federal money (we used to understand that the Feds have no money of their own, it is OURS) that had the local government salivating and putting up said plant.

  4. Kearn Schemm on June 27th, 2013 10:11 am

    The town needs to act on this. Since Bayshore is a major employer, we might even be able to give them a discounted rate on the (now unused) treated wastewater and still improve the water rates for the residential customers and protect our aquifers.

  5. Derrick Riser on June 27th, 2013 12:34 pm

    [Comment deleted due to fake name and/or email address. Please resubmit using your real name and address.]

  6. Deborah Bender on June 27th, 2013 3:39 pm

    “Panek also said that he did not think Bayshore Concrete uses very much water.”
    . . .
    And to think that he is our assistant town manager!

  7. Dana Lascu on June 27th, 2013 11:18 pm

    Investigative journalism at its best. I commend the Wave and the Wave community for exposing our too many sacred cows as toxic parasites.

  8. Jack Forgosh on June 28th, 2013 10:17 am

    Mike: I agree that we the people and our elected officials find it too easy to spend our tax dollars. The water treatment plant is built and operating and we the people and our elected representatives must pay the bondholders.
    I am agreeing with the conclusion of others that providing Bayshore Concrete with an alternative water source to our fresh water aquifers would be time and money well spent. Some anticipate that our drinking water may become even scarcer than fossil fuels. Why pump our treated water into a salty bay when that water can be used as a key ingredient in the making of concrete. The plant has been built and in my opinion, it is important to invest wisely in community infrastructure.

  9. Colin Cowling on June 29th, 2013 6:54 pm

    Be careful what you wish for.
    Annual gross sales from tourism in Cape Charles might cover Bayshore Concrete’s payroll — for two or three months. And they do it with government support such as the $55,000 the County puts up for the Tall Ships.

    Bayshore’s product has to be of the very highest quality and no one has said whether or not the discharge water is good enough. The large things you see sitting on rail cars for shipment all over the County are storage containers for nuclear waste, so there can be no compromise. And we certainly don’t want them cutting corners on the bridges that one day our children will be riding over.

    A more suitable use of the wastewater would be to keep the Bay Creek lakes full and water the golf courses instead of using our ground water when things get dry. However I doubt that has much appeal to the residents of Bay Creek, some of whom would rather fuss about their water bills than look at the bigger picture.

  10. Mike Kuzma, Jr on July 2nd, 2013 2:08 pm

    Mr. Forgosh: Regarding Government we are in complete agreement. As to Bayshore being forced to join up, we really need to look forward. Industry profit margins for the last 5 years across the concrete industry were NEGATIVE 6 percent. How long can a company operate if it loses 6 percent a year? If we make moves towards increasing Bayshore’s costs, they may just move. Where would we be then?