The Supreme Court yesterday refused to be drawn into a Northern Virginia controversy that has sent sewerage bills soaring in the City of Manassas Park.
The court let stand a ruling by the Court of Claims that the federal government is not liable for the cost overruns on a new $82.3 million sewage plant in Prince William County that had to be upgraded to meet environmental regulations.
The justices refused to hear arguments by the city and the Upper Occoquan Sewage Authority from an order denying them more federal financing for the plant, the cost of which almost doubled because federal pollution rules were changed while it was under construction.
"I'm disappointed," said Manassas Prk City Attorney Charles S. Perry, who said the city will press its case for financial relief elsewhere.
Changes mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency caused some sewage bills in the community to double or triple, prompting protests and appeals to both Congress and the state government for financial aid. Sewage bills for many of the city's 1,900 residential customers range from $100 to $150 every two months, city officals said yesterday.
Some Manassas Park residents have complained the bills are so high that they not only have difficulty paying their bills, but their homes have become hard to sell.
Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to fund 75 percent of the cost of construction of publicly owned sewage treatment works. Since the EPA issued the regulations that forced revisions in the plant, the local governments sued the federal government seeking additional aid.
But the Court of Claims, a federal court that hears claims against the government, rejected the localities' arguments and the Supreme Court yesterday refused to review the case.