Vienna Town Manager C. Clay Harrell has urged the Virginia General Assembly to pass legislation to allow local governments to declare local water emergencies.

As the law now stands, only the governor can declare local emergencies due to water shortages or other conditions that could endanger the welfare of the community.

In a letter to State Del. Raymond E. Vickery. Harrell said, "I advised the Governor's office that I was going to recommend that local jurisdictions who are best in touch with the situation be granted authority to handle emergency situations. It is unthinkable to me that local authorities would have to go to the Governor's office to handle a situation such as occurred in Montgomery County recently."

Del. Vickery's reply stated that he agreed with the town manager and that he would introduce a bill during the next session of the General Assembly to give local governments such power.

The Town of Vienna and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions recently passed water conservation ordinances that would be implemented in case of a shortage. In an opinion issued last month, the State Attorney General indicated that such ordinances could not be enforced unless the governor first declared that an emergency existed.