Following tonight’s Falls Church City Council vote to authorize the City Manager to set in motion a process for the prospective sale of the City’s Water System, the City issued the following formal statement:
The Falls Church City Council authorized the City Manager to issue an invitation for public water suppliers to bid on the purchase of the water system. The Invitation to Bid, to be released on April 11, will provide all bidders with the same set of conditions, which includes a list of all water utility assets that convey, a guarantee of employment for current utility employees for one year at comparable pay and benefits, and a rate freeze for one year.
“Over the past several months the City Council has conducted an extensive evaluation of options with the goal of securing the best results for the City’s water customers and tax payers,” said Mayor Nader Baroukh. “The City has a long history of careful management of the water system, a strong customer base, and a very talented work force. We look forward to the response from the private and public utility industry.”
In the formal Invitation to Bid, the City will set a minimum bid amount. Bidders will have 45 days to respond; sealed bids will be due on May 25. The Invitation to Bid is for the City’s Water Utility assets only; the City’s sewer assets are not being offered for sale. Upon determination of a satisfactory bid, the City Council would authorize the execution of a purchase agreement with the successful bidder, contingent on voter approval by public referendum at the November 6 election.
Recent legal and political hurdles have increased the financial risk to the City in providing water service for residents of Fairfax County. The City issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) in February, seeking input from qualified utility entities that may have an interest in entering into an agreement for the purchase of the City’s utility assets. The City received a strong response from water industry leaders, including the nation’s preeminent investor-owned utilities, water service providers, and public water authorities located in Virginia. The City Council considered the input received from these expressions of interest as part of its overall evaluation of options for the future of its system. Favorable market conditions exist for a sale of the water system in an open, fair, and competitive manner, and the City has an interest in deploying the proceeds from such a sale to meet critical long-term needs of City taxpayers.
Interested organizations and the public can find information about the City Water and Sewer Systems via the City’s website, www.fallschurchva.gov/WaterFuture. The public is invited to submit comments to WaterFuture@fallschurchva.gov. The City will host a Town Hall Meeting
on Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m. in Council Chambers in City Hall (300 Park Ave.) to provide the public with information on the process ahead.
About the Falls Church Water Utility System
The City of Falls Church has operated a successful public water supply system since the 1930s, growing significantly beyond the City’s borders. The City’s total service area is approximately 33 square miles, with 34,500 accounts and annual revenues of approximately $20 million. The City is a wholesale customer of the Washington Aqueduct, which provides drinking water for the City of Falls Church, Arlington County, and District of Columbia. The City water system delivers an average of 17 million gallons of water to its customers each day, with a maximum capacity of approximately 38 million gallons per day.