2011-08-24 / Opinions

When will Chesterfield Observer be mailed to Moseley?


With reference to the Midlothian homeowner whose letter to the editor objected to receiving the Chesterfield Observer in the mail, I would be very happy if we received this fine local newspaper. We lived in Brandermill for 19 years, and I always looked forward to reading local news in the Chesterfield Observer each week.

We moved three miles away, and it is not delivered to this community. For some unknown reason, our community, Heron Pointe, has a Moseley, 23120 address, while all addresses around us are Midlothian, 23112.

Instead, we receive the Amelia Bulletin Monitor, another fine newspaper, but it has no interest to me as we do not shop or visit Amelia. I also tried to get its delivery stopped, but it seems the only solution is to recycle.

Please, Chesterfield Observer, start delivery to my community.

Doug Keadle

The Chesterfield Observer would like to mail to every home in the county, but mailing the paper is a major expense for us. We recently increased our circulation to 69,244 – more than twice the circulation of any weekly newspaper in the Richmond metro and are now the largest circulation weekly newspaper in Virginia. Still, there are around 50,000 homes in the county that we don’t mail to. In the meantime, there are about 70 locations in the county where you can pick up a copy each week (see a listing on page 13) or visit Our latest issue is loaded onto the website by noon every Wednesday. Editor

Contesting backflow inspections

It seems that articles by staff writers appearing in local newspapers promote a positive attitude toward Chesterfield County’s decision more than two years ago to enforce a state regulation requiring annual inspections of backflow preventers on residential irrigation systems. There has never been an incident in Chesterfield in which the water supply has been compromised from cross-connection contamination. So, why was the decision made to begin enforcement of a regulation requiring annual inspections adopted by the state in 1977?

According to Roy Covington, director of utilities for Chesterfield, the risk of contamination is low – as characterized at a recent meeting of the board of supervisors – “low risk, high consequence.” In discussing this new enforcement policy, an incident in Roanoke in 1979 is referenced. Though it was an expensive cleanup ($240,000), it was not the result of a malfunction of an irrigation backflow preventer.

According to Doug Caldwell of the regional Water Programs Office in Lexington, a pesticide applicator was diluting chlordane (now outlawed) adding water from a garden hose. When finished, the garden hose was left in the mixing container, and the solution siphoned back into the house and eventually all the homes on Autumn Lane. It did not cause sickness or death.

Caldwell also explains that a malfunctioning backflow preventer can cause contamination only if several other conditions exist simultaneously. The cost to residents for inspections on a yearly basis far exceeds the cost for cleanup in a rare instance. This is a heavy financial burden. How unfortunate that this threat of enforcement comes at a time when the economy is suffering.

Likewise, enforcement is costly to the county. Why spend taxpayer dollars for enforcement when the risk is low? Henrico and Hanover [county] residents are not being asked to do this annual inspection. I believe we are using a cannon to kill an ant.

I feel that attention should be given to a change in this state regulation.

Jeannie Wilson


Covington responds: “I am pleased that Ms. Wilson acknowledges there has never been an event in Chesterfield County when contamination of the public drinking-water system occurred as a result of a cross-connection or backflow incident. The backflow prevention/ cross-connection program is one of numerous preventative processes that the Chesterfield County Utilities Department implements to assure that the drinking water we provide our customers is of the highest quality. We are proud of our track record of not having a single violation of a primary drinking-water standard. Perhaps the positive nature of the newspaper articles Ms. Wilson refers to is a favorable reflection of this program and others that serve to protect the public health as it relates to their drinking water.

“The reference to the ‘Roanoke incident’ illustrates that backflow incidents do indeed occur. Though the cost of the cleanup of this event is given at $240,000, this is not the complete story. Affected citizens were forced to go without water for more than two months while internal residential plumbing systems were replaced. Records show that a class action suit resulted in awarding $20 million to the residents who filed suit against the water supplier.

“No taxpayer dollars are spent for any components of this program, as the utilities department is an enterprise funded totally by the sale of our water and wastewater products and services. Our rates for these services remain some of the lowest in the region.

“The requirement for annual testing of backflow prevention devices is contained in the Virginia Department of Health’s Waterworks Regulations. The primary reason for this regulation is to protect public health. This is the utilities department’s primary reason as well for implementing this required program.”

Letters to the editor can be emailed to let, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer’s phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters should be limited to less than 500 words and may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit and click onletterspolicy.”

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