Onley, Va.— On October 26, the Eastern Shore Chapter of Virginia Organizing held a media conference to announce their new campaign for access to affordable well and septic on the Shore. This effort is the beginning of a larger campaign on housing.
The Rev. Rick Willis moderated the conference and explained the process the group used to decide on the campaign.
“We held listening sessions in four communities: Horntown, Bayside, Whitesville, and Boston. After these individual sessions, we pulled together in Gaskins Chapel AME Church where we had a round table and ended up prioritizing three key things: housing, wells, and septic systems.”
Dinita Warner, a resident of Accomack County, knows firsthand how important these issues are.
“About 8 years ago my well went dry in Bayside, causing me to leave my residence,” said Warner. “For the last three years I have lived in a home that has rust in the water. I had to share a well that has a major leak, causing my utility water pump to cost $170-180/month. Due to the recent discovery of the shared well and the massive leak, I needed a new well to be installed. I was quoted $8900 to fix this well. Most low-income families do not have this. I would like to see more licensed professionals on the Eastern Shore to be able to build these wells, as well as lowered fees for low-income families.”
Paul Berge, a retired planner for the Eastern Shore region, argued that the counties should build small wastewater treatment facilities for Bayside and other neighborhoods in unincorporated areas.
“The issue of sewers has become very critical. It’s really clear that many of these communities are on soils that are just not acceptable for a normal septic system. So you have to put in a $30,000 system. You have to pay $1000/year or more for maintenance. I suggest the counties should look at forming small treatment plants. If these communities don’t find a solution to sewer, they’re going to have to look at moving elsewhere,” Berge said.
Virginia Organizing calls on the Accomack County Board of Supervisors to prioritize these critical issues on the Eastern Shore. Chapter leaders will continue reaching out to new communities and meeting with local elected officials to ensure everyone on the Shore has access to safe, affordable housing, water, and sewer services.
To interview a spokesperson for this event, please contact Justin Nick at 443-758-5971 or firstname.lastname@example.org.