"We thought we had it made about four years ago when our newest water well began producing 100 gallons a minute . . . at a time when our seven other town wells were averaging only about 20 gallons a minute," said Robert Trussell, a member of the Hamilton Town Council.
But some of the gusto has gone out of the Loudoun County town's new geyser. Lately, it has been providing only 50 gallons of water a minute, "and our second-best well, which was producing 50 gallons a minute, has dropped to 17," said Trussell.
The council last week voted to drill yet another public well, at an expected cost of about $9,000, hoping it will keep the town's two water tanks topped off for heavy summer water use by the approximately 400 homes in and around the town.
Most rural Northern Virginia towns get their water from springs and wells while Washington's close-in suburbs tap the Potomac, Patuxent and Occoquan rivers. With a new Fairfax County pumping station on the river and new upriver dams that can release water in times of drought, the suburbs are now awash and the countryside is struggling with inadequate wells and springs and outdated water systems. These small towns have trouble supplying their present residences, let alone any new housing.
"We're not desperate yet, just looking ahead," said Trussell. Soundings for the new well will be taken on lots dedicated to the town by two new housing subdivisions.
The council last week also took up another perennial problem, speeding traffic. As they did several years ago, officials have asked the state to lower the 35-mile-an-hour speed limit to 25 on Rte. 7 in the hilly center of town. The state is mulling it over, said Trussell, and the town is mulling over a state request to lower a sidewalk where motorists have difficulty seeing.
In other action, the council voted to include its three employes in the state retirement system. It will pay the 4.1 percent municipal share of pension costs, but voted against paying the 5 percent employe share--as do Leesburg, Purcellville and the state for their employes. The town now has no pension plan for its employes.