It was no April Fool’s joke for the village of Holland.
After years of using a well that had levels of fluoride deemed too high for human consumption, the village finally was put on city water on April 1 after a $12.7-million project to extend service to the outlying community.
“I think this was a major milestone for the city,” said Public Utilities Director Al Moor.
The city was under an order from the Virginia Department of Health to resolve the fluoride issue in the well, which the city has owned since 2004 when it acquired that well and nine others from C&P Water Company.
Since fluoride is an issue in groundwater throughout the area, Moor said, the only viable choice was to extend city water.
“We wanted to provide an upgraded system,” Moor said. The new system, which serves about 180 structures, has bigger pipes and improved distribution throughout the village, along with a new water tank on Holland Road, near Pioneer Elementary School.
It also provides fire hydrants in the village, which previously have been unavailable. Moor said the enhanced fire protection could have some benefit to residents’ insurance rates.
Some local residents say the city water is an improvement over the well water.
“The way it was before, you couldn’t even smell it,” Jill Peacock said. “It was horribly bad. Anything is an improvement.”
She said the new water had a slight orange tint for a while, but that disappeared.
Others aren’t so pleased with the new service, because the village still doesn’t have sewer service.
“We had water,” Chuck Howell said. “I don’t think it met all the specs, but we had water. What we really need is sewer. It was promised in 1973, and we still don’t have it yet.”
Roland Griggs said he and others received a notice that they will owe $1,060 each for a hookup fee.
“My understanding was they weren’t going to charge anything,” Griggs said.
Sarah Jones, whose husband installed the old well around 1950 and owned the village’s water system for many years, said the notice of the connection fee was a surprise.
‘I think it’s a real shock to all of us,” she said. “There will be many people in Holland that will not be able to pay for this.”
In a response to questions, city spokeswoman Diana Klink wrote in an email that customers of the other nine systems acquired in 2004, who were immediately connected to city water, also were charged the $1,060 connection fee, but the fee was deferred for customers in Holland until the new system was set up.
Klink said the residents have six months to pay the charge or apply for a five-year payment plan. Those who qualify for the tax abatement program can apply the same percentage discount they see there to the connection charges.
Klink added there are currently no plans to extend sewer service to the village.