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2/8/16

On Private Water From The Comfort Of An Off Grid Prefab With Potable Rainwater Systems

At the off grid prefab house, downpours this week allowed our rainwater system's cistern to fill quickly to capacity.
I warn you: this week, WATER was the watchword.
So if you want, skip my water rant and move on to the Amish and sun sets at the prefab modern house at the end. Otherwise, entertain yourself with possible Water Ponzi Schemes and Point Property Intrigue!

Before I settle in to my water rant, here's some pictures from our off grid modern prefab this week. : ) 



Ah. Water intrigue!
🎶
 I always feel like... 🎶

🎶 ...somebody's WATCHIN' me... 🎶

Don't get me wrong- I love (and have spent a lifetime) running up and down the points! We love it there, and own property in the proposed areas! Tons of friends have homes here, and I hope the higher point properties are enjoyed for more generations.
But there's also reasonable subjects the community should be expected to discuss when considering major infrastructure investments.

You may recall that in summer we go back and forth (and forth, and back!) to the Chesapeake Bay where friends and family have gathered for generations: Deltaville.

The issue of WATER now embroils our beloved town. You're surrounded by it; but if you choose to buy property on the points, the dirty secret is that
the well water
is
terrible.

File this away for processing: Undrinkable water juxtaposed with million dollar views, where most of the land sits just 0-3 feet elevation above sea level, on precarious points surrounded by the bay.

The Middlesex Water Authority Pipeline back story:
Last year, the talk of the town was that the Middlesex Water Authority was determining whether or not to run water lines to the points. The properties on the point were developed not until the 1950s by city people looking for weekend homes on the bay. Locals traditionally did not build there because, well, the water was bad, the mosquitoes worse, and heck, that's pretty close to the water level, y'know?

This local 150+ year old farmhouse
sits well over 50 feet above sea level.

The majority of old farm houses (and locals) are found on higher elevations back off the water and onto farmland, where their water has always been supplied by well water.  They are happy with their well water, and even if they weren't, it wouldn't matter because this water pipeline wouldn't serve them anyway- it's not for the community; it's *only* for people who can "opt in" for $5,000 (or since the deadline passed, if they had gotten enough subscribers, $10,000) and live on the points.

I did not mention it before, because, last year, sitting around the pool talking to all the people with good water who were politely being quiet as the people with bad water pressured us on and on about signing up ("...sign up NOW for only $5,000, because if you miss that August deadline *be scared folks* it will then be $10,000!") for a water line we didn't need... we just expected the deadline would come, they
Wouldn't it be nice if the Middlesex Water Authority
would keep their word about all these final FINAL deadlines?
You would *think* they would put something
so contentious
up for a town vote.

wouldn't have enough subscribers, and it would alllllllll go away and we could go back to being just neighbors and not pressuring each other.


The deadline came and went, and when they still had not enough subscribers, they reneged and stated that the FINAL NEW deadline would be October 14th.

This FINAL deadline came, and went, without the minimum subscribers.

A new year dawned.

Suddenly, now in 2016 up pops all kinds of "Wellllllllllllllllllll we are thiiiiiiiiiiiiiinking about extending the deadline...AGAIN..."

I finally had to chime in on the Deltaville Facebook page, because it's a shame this issue won't follow it's own deadlines (why would you trust them at all to stick to any agreement when they continue to renege on their own edicts?) much less consider there might be less expensive, less contentious ways for property owners to address poor water issues on the points.

"We live off grid and purchased a potable rainwater collection and filtration system for the same amount it earlier would cost to sign up ($5,000) with no monthly fees or price increases NOR did we need to nag our neighbors into signing petitions... just saying.

I don't understand how this big critical deadline people went on and on about last year (and then came and went) can be brought up again- the community spoke, they don't want it. Continuing to change the deadline for your own interests doesn't seem very "community-minded." At worst it reeks of dirty politics, at best, is spamming this page.

'To date, 424 have signed up, including only seven businesses. There are an additional 960 parcels along the proposed distribution system that have not signed up, Baybutt told the MWA and an audience of about 25 people that attended the MWA meeting on January 19.'"

Just 424 out of over **3,000** properties signed up? THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.

When we looked for property in the beloved town of Deltaville, we considered two things that basic Real Estate 101 investment purchases should always consider:
The "E" word, and the "W" word.

I find it interesting the "E" word is not even brought up as point properties clamor for the "W" word- WATER.

The "E" word, the word no one speaks about when considering whether or not it is fiscally prudent to invest in expensive infrastructure on the points that would then affect the entire town is: ELEVATION.

When we considered potential properties that might interest us to purchase, our first question was, "What is the elevation? Because if I invest in Deltaville I hope my children's children might enjoy the property, too."
Again, when buying our land
where we built our off grid prefab house,
we checked first on the important
"W" and "E" words-
our elevation is 692' above sea level.



Our criteria only considered properties 50 feet and more above sea level.

Once satisfied on elevation, we then asked, "How's the water?" Because we *knew* there are water issues on the Chesapeake Bay.

Why should prudent property owners who make wise real estate decisions have to be affected by those who do not?

They say it won't affect the rest of the town...
"...The Deltaville water service area has about 3,100 properties, said Middlesex County Administrator Matt Walker. The system needs to be 'self-sustaining' without help from Middlesex County government, he noted. 'To move forward we need to know the take rate and have a count on demand.'"
...but with already so many alterations of original statements, who are we to take them at their word?

A good question for a reporter: "How much has the county spent on these 'studies' and the staff at the Middlesex Water Authority as they continue to study and exceed each self-imposed deadline?"

Hey, look! This off grid prefab house
does not impact any of its neighbors with our water!
Or solar energy!

No matter how much they deny it, this water line, if it goes through, will affect the town and the town's resources at some point, where the median income is around 30k. I can't see how this is a benefit for the town's whole.

They say the points provide jobs (they do- marina work and housekeeping) but won't that change when the points are affected by the rising bay? How can you sustain marina jobs when the marina is under water? Just as crabbing and fishing industries have had to adjust, you can't argue that "things will remain the same in the Boating Capitol of The Chesapeake..."

From The Scientific American: Whatever You Call It, Sea Level Rises In Virginia
"The Atlantic Ocean off Virginia's coast is rising a quarter of an inch annually, equivalent to two feet in 100 years - faster than anywhere else in the United States except for coastal Louisiana. The ocean at Sewells Point, site of the Norfolk Naval Station, rose 14.5 inches between 1930 and 2010. And that's likely to accelerate. Last month the U.S. Geological Survey reported that sea levels are rising more quickly along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts than globally, possibly as a result of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns."

From Wetlands Watch: A Toolkit For Sea Level Rise Adaptation In Virginia
"Virginia has the highest rate of measured sea level rise over the last 100 years of any state on the east coast, with the Sewells Point tide gauge in Norfolk recording a centennial rate of .44 meters (1.45 feet). (NOAA Tide Gauges, US Climate Change Program 2009) The rate of sea level rise in the southern Chesapeake Bay is expected to increase in the coming century, increasing from its historic .44 meters to a minimum of .7 meters (2.3 feet) per 100 years (Pyke et. al. 2008, Virginia Commission 2008, Najjar et. al. 2000). Rates could go higher: conservative projections of future rates of sea level rise run from the minimum of .7 meters (2.3 feet) to as much as 1.58 meters (5.2 feet) in the coming century (Pyke, et al. 2008, Virginia Commission 2008)."

If you read the threads of the people clamoring for a private water line, you see words often tossed about like "development," "resale benefits," "good for a city" and "growth."

Deltaville will never be a city, thanks to responsible zoning, and owners know this. Adjectives like "resale benefits" compel me to feel like the Point Properties are just another Ponzi Scheme.

I still don't know why property owners on the point are so intently talking about million dollar infrastructure when their  average elevation is 0-3 feet, right on the bay...

The Middlesex Water Authority and proponents assures the rest of the community that it won't adversely affect the town, it is a good thing that won't take resources from those less fortunate but as one gentleman on the point says in the same breath,
"You would surely think there would be federal grants that would pay for the water line to Deltaville. The government has paid to move entire communities, when there was flooding and not good water and sewage in the past."
Uhhhh... not any more, honeychile, not any more.
Here's some pictures from this October, on the point, where they want the water line: (photo credit: Jason Stech / NBC12)

In reading the Middlesex Water Authority's subscriber agreement, I also stopped and considered the following requirements which made for most interesting reading for those of you who value property rights and independence:
We're free to change
or alter our systems whenever we want.

  • "...subscriber agrees to connect to the water system, paying all fees, and shall disconnect from all other sources of water." Oh wow. Talk about removing any water independence from this pipeline!
  • "...Subscriber further acknowledges and agrees that in order to connect to the public water system, subscriber must disconnect any existing system from all private wells or other water sources, other than the public water provided by the Authority and that once it connects to the public water system provided by the Authority, it cannot ever disconnect from the public water system and resume the use of a water source other than that provided by the Authority..."
  • "Said deposit is non-refundable unless the Authority is unable to provide public water to the subscriber in which case the deposit will be refunded without interest."
    If you recall, the "final" deadline was in October (until, of course, they decided to renege on that). I wonder how many people who paid the deposit have not gotten their money back? Because there is talk about people unable to obtain refunds...

Ok this whole Middlesex Water Authority going back and forth on their own deadlines and edicts and binding private property owners to crazy legal terms is so silly I am now bored of this blog post!

So. Let's talk about ME ; ) - This is an opportunity to revisit our own potable rainwater collection process for the off grid prefab house- here it is, if you are interested.

"...While filtration removes most of the sediment and bacteria before rainwater enters the tank, a small quantity will settle at the bottom of the tank. This biofilm layer is beneficial for the tank and may remove additional bacteria and metals from the water. The WISY smoothing inlet calms rainwater as it enters the storage tank to prevent the agitation of sediment at the rainwater inlet. The smoothing inlet also helps aerate harvested rainwater by directing water upward and outward, avoiding disruption of the beneficial biofilm layer and preserving water quality in the tank."

Let's talk food and fun.
Venison pizza.
I went to an Amish neighbor's, who was readying for dinner- vegetable soup.
"I *love* soups, sometimes I can eat one soup after another for a week, as hearty or soothing/ light for which the mood desires!"
"What are YOU having for dinner?"
"Venison BBQ with collards and bacon jam..."
She smiled. "YOU have been busy!"
"Yeah, but it was because, after this warm weekend, I was excited to have my cook stove on today, so I just thought it was a good day to slowly roast and simmer! But yeah, these winter cooking days mean I'm not losing any weight!"

Venison BBQ over fresh bread
with collards and bacon jam.

Bacon jam and hot bread out of the oven.
Baaaaaaaaaaacon jam....

As usual, we kept busy chasing chickens horses and donkeys even with all the mud.


A boy... and his rooster.

He is a cycling rooster...
But if you think that's impressive,
he is also an equestrian rooster!

I even cow sat. Here are some of my Mad'ville rush hour views.

We enjoy our view, and our life, at the off grid modern prefab, on Higher Ground (and even higher elevation!) with freedom to invest in sustainable systems that conserve resources without impacting others.

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