PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. – A family living without running water for more than ten months is likely going to make it to Month 11.
In early September, an 8News Taking Action story highlighted a Prince George family’s life without running water. At the time, faced with dwindling resources after spending thousands of dollars on a temporary well fix, a rain barrel and months of jugs and bottles of water, they were pinning their hopes on a new state program.
But the Sewer and Well Assistance Program — known as SWAP — has had more applications for projects than expected. Even without the typical advertising the Virginia Department of Health would do for a new program like SWAP, the program had to initiate a soft pause on applications during the summer before closing them completely on Sept. 2.
Now, while the processing backlog seems to be clearing significantly, it is still taking months for well projects to get even a single bid from contractors. And even once that bid is approved, it is taking a median time of 30 days for projects to be installed. The average wait time, drawn out by some particularly long lag times between bid and installation, is 47 days.
The Curry-Fosters seemed poised to hit closer to the average.
“That’s insane,” Teressa Curry-Foster said. “They told me they would be here the week after [bidding].”
After finally seeing a company bid on their well project through SWAP following a two-month wait, they have been in limbo now for another month. The state now says the well installation date provided by their contractor is Oct. 17.
But Curry-Foster has seen three other start dates come and go without a well, so she says she isn’t holding her breath. The company who bid on her project has told her the delays are due to their backlogs. As 8News has previously reported, that backlog isn’t uncommon.
“This should bring publicity for everybody, not just me,” Curry-Foster said. “This is a big problem.”
Other well companies we spoke with say they have more work than they’ve ever had before. More commercial and new residential properties are requesting their services, but the number of skilled tradespeople entering the profession hasn’t kept up.
So the Curry-Fosters wait, three and a half months after the local health department issued the permit to construct a new private well.
While only 18 septic and well projects had been installed by the end of August when 8News first began reporting on the issue, 12 more have been installed in the six weeks since then. According to the state, 73 projects are currently under contract for installation, compared to the 26 that were under contract on Aug. 30.
But as the Curry-Fosters have learned and the data shows, being under contract just means the finish line is still likely one to one and a half months away. So with little to no rain in the forecast before the fourth date set for the well diggers to arrive, Curry-Foster is headed to spend more money on more water, again.
“I did dishes today and it took me two hours,” Curry-Foster said. “Like come on. I just want to wash dishes normally.”
Here is a breakdown of Central Virginia SWAP project applications by locality:
|Locality||Number of Applications|