TCA Waterworks System
A Brief History of Our Well Water System
When Tauxemont was established in 1941 there was no public water or sanitary services available in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County, so a source was needed in order to provide water to the founding families.
The first TCA well (‘Tauxemont’) was installed that same year to provide water to those first twenty houses built on Tauxemont Road, known as ‘Section I’. When Section II of Tauxemont was developed in 1942, a second well (‘Shenandoah’) was installed on Shenandoah Road. When Tauxemont Section III was built in 1946, a third well (‘Gahant’) was completed on Gahant Road. These well sites initially pumped water to their respective sections of the community, before the three distribution systems were interconnected in the early 1950s so that a single pump could supply the total Tauxemont connections as needed. The original ‘Tauxemont’ and ‘Shenandoah’ wells were replaced (in 1955, and 1968 & 2015 res.). All three well sites continue to be operational today.
In the late 1960’s, Fairfax County attempted to incorporate all private water systems into a county-wide system. Unlike other communities, TCA was an established entity operating it’s system. After deliberation, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ultimately voted to preserve Tauxemont’s community-owned and operated water system. Tauxemont was fortunate to have retained its rights as an independent, private system, and Tauxemonters are still enjoying our excellent water today.
The Source of Our Water
Tauxemont’s water is drawn from a large, eastern regional aquifer. Specifically, Tauxemont is located above a river sediment (Potomac River) portion of the Coastal Plain Sediment slope that begins east of I-95 and extends to the edge of the Continental Shelf in the Atlantic Ocean. Over millions of years this Coastal Plain Sediment layer - considered ideal for well water extraction due to its composition of course-ground sand - has become a huge reservoir for fresh water. Because the age of the water at this level and region is thousands of years old, it is very pure, naturally soft (low in mineral content), requires minimal chemical additives, and tastes great.
System Details and Oversight
TCA owns and operates its water system under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH), which implements standards in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standards. The DEQ permit for groundwater withdrawal is complemented by the public water supply permit (drinking water) from the VDH.
The Tauxemont water system consists of three wells interconnected in two major loops, with three spurs, totaling approximately 8,600 feet of water mains and distribution pipes. At each of its three deep well sites -Tauxemont, Shenandoah, and Gahant - water is pumped into tanks where pressure is maintained by pumping air into the tank. In addition to the well sites, the system includes the well tanks and pumps, the main pipelines, water-main taps, and outdoor shut-off valves. TCA has 117 connections that include: the residences of Tauxemont, the community house owned by TCA, the tennis court site owned by TCA, and eight residential properties located adjacent to, but outside of, the Tauxemont boundaries on Alexandria Avenue and Cameron Road. Per TCA’s Virginia state permit, no additional service connections to the TCA water system are permitted.
TCA operates the water system with a Licensed Operator. Currently, our Licensed Operator is also a TCA stockholder, an engineer with a Class VI Operator License, for the water system, by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations. The Licensed Operator acts on behalf of TCA to assure compliance with State and Federal rules and regulations for drinking water (failure to do so can result in the loss of our operator’s license and the loss of TCA’s drinking water permit). Supported by a community stockholder water committee led by a Chairperson appointed by the TCA Board, the Licensed Operator is directed by TCA to maintain the water system with the committee members’ services. The Licensed Operator provides monthly reports to the the Board, produces an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) on drinking water quality (this report is provided to all TCA waterworks customers, as required by VDH Office of Drinking Water), reports test results, and provides the data reflecting amounts of water pumped by the wells to the Virginia Department of Health.
The water committee Chairperson manages and administers the water system and regularly reports to the Board regarding the general operation of the water system. Water committee members conduct routine monitoring of water quality, wells, pumps, water main lines, and tanks in accordance with health standards set by the state of Virginia. This monitoring includes weekly checks of the wells and pumps, monthly collection of water samples that are sent to a Fairfax County Health Department laboratory for analysis*, and quarterly flushing of the system. The Licensed Operator and committee make recommendations to the TCA Board of Directors and stockholders on repairs, replacements, and upgrades to the system in order to continue to meet drinking water standards, maintain a safe and operational system, and conserve this valuable resource.
* The water is tested monthly for chemical and bacteriological contamination, and the results are monitored by the Virginia Office of Water Programs, Department of Health. As a public water supply, the water system is required to comply with stringent chemical and bacteriological quality standards contained in state and federal drinking water regulations. Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants but the presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk.
Every three years, the State laboratory in Richmond tests our water for metals, radiological, and inorganic matter as required by the Virginia Waterworks Regulations. The Virginia Division of Water Supply Engineering also inspects pump facilities every three years. Additionally, TCA completes thorough analyses of our water system on a recurring basis, including studies of the aquifer from which we draw our water. These studies are available by request to waterworks customers interested in learning more.
All members of the water committee, as well as the Licensed Operator, operate the TCA water system on a volunteer basis. Their dedication to keeping the system safe and operational - along with TCA stockholders’ continued investment in the effective operation of the TCA waterworks system - is critical to the long-term delivery of safe, great-tasting drinking water to the community.
Meeting ‘Real-Time Demand’ Together
TCA strives to meet real-time demand for water supply at any given time. Tauxemont community members work together to understand, protect, and manage our water production, and all water users’ conservation efforts are critical in helping TCA meet that need.
Together, we have developed guidelines for water usage. TCA water users are expected to follow these guidelines, as well as our ‘Water Conservation Tips’ (find both guidelines and tips on the Water Conservation page of this website) in order to help avoid water events that would impact the entire community and allow us to remain within our legal water withdrawal limits. As with other aspects of our unique community, TCA welcomes dialogue with water users’ in order to ensure that our water supply remains safe and accessible.
General Guidelines for Water Customers
1. Water Conservation
Conserving water year-round is every water users’ responsibility. Please go to Water Conservation on this website for complete guidelines.
2. Contamination Prevention
Waterworks customers are required to complete a TCA Backflow Survey Form every three years (2012, 2015, 2018, etc.) at the request of the Water Committee. Forms are distributed to all stockholders at specific times. These forms are required by the Virginia Department of Health to minimize risks to your health by the possibility of contaminants being pushed or sucked into the mains.
3. Knowing your Home’s Shut-Off Valve Location
All Tauxemont properties were built with interior and exterior shut-off valves. Homeowners should know the location of both the interior house shut-off and the outside water shut-off valves on their property.
The outside water shut-off valve is buried on your service line, near the main line, and is accessible through a capped metal pipe. It may be found in your front or back yard, depending on where you live. The water committee has identified most of the caps and painted them BLUE for easy identification. Any unfound caps will be rust-colored.
One tap (water service line from main to house) per customer is allowed. TCA owns the outside tap and shut-off valve; the individual homeowner owns everything between the shut-off valve and the home. Individual service lines are also owned by the homeowner and, as such, maintenance and/or replacement are the owner’s financial responsibility, to be contracted and paid by the property owner in the event of a service line break or leak.
Special Resolution by the TCA Board to assist homeowners with un-located shut-off valves. For houses with un-locatable shut-off valves as of October 28, 2018: 1. TCA will reimburse one half (50%) of the cost paid by the homeowner, up to a maximum of $350 per household, for commercial assistance to locate the valve. This is a one time reimbursement for funds paid for one valve search. Thereafter, these homeowners are responsible for knowing the location and maintaining access to the valve. 2. The contract to search for and locate a valve should be between the homeowner and the search company, and the homeowner should pay for the search. Homeowners will be reimbursed upon submission to the TCA Treasurer a written request for reimbursement and a copy of the invoice. Reimbursement will be made to the homeowner. TCA assumes no liability with regard to work contracted by homeowners. Homeowners can coordinate contracting and scheduling with other homeowners as they see fit. 3. In consideration of this effort, homeowners will maintain the valve in such a way as to allow for easy access to it. 4. The time limit for this is until the end the next fiscal year, which is February 2020.
4. Reporting Problems
For possible water line or water main breaks, notify the Water Committee Chair or a committee member, your Area Rep, or a TCA Board member immediately. In the event of a major service line break or frozen water pipes, TCA will work to keep service disruption to a minimum while complying with VDH standards.
5. Pre-Construction Notification
Notify the TCA Board and/or Water Committee Chairman in advance of any construction, demolition, digging, or other activities. A water committee member will identify the location of the water pipes on or near your property and assess impact on the water system to ensure that no damage impairs the system’s operations. Homeowners must also notify Miss Utility (call 811) before digging.
Homeowners are responsible for turning off their water supply from Tauxemont before doing plumbing or pipe maintenance, and for knowing where the water shut off valves are located (see Item 3). However, neither homeowners nor service people engaged by the homeowner are permitted to turn off the outside water shutoff valve connection to the TCA water system. This valve is the property of TCA and may only be turned on and off by a member of the water committee. Please contact the water committee for assistance.
6. Swimming Pools & Irrigation Systems
7. Additional Filtration
Filtration systems may be installed in the home to meet discretionary, personal standards for water taste, clarity, and mineral content. Reference material is available from the EPA at www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/pdfs/fs_healthseries_filtration.pdf.
8. Preventive Maintenance
It is suggested that homeowners flush hot water heaters annually as general maintenance in order to remove accumulated sediment.
9. Homeowners Insurance
The TCA Board is not the insurer of the homeowner’s property. Any flooding from burst pipes, water heater leaks, or back-ups in plumbing - and the associated water damage to a home - is solely the responsibility of the homeowner. Many standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover water damage, so check with your provider to assure that you have adequate coverage.
Every TCA member is a stockholder in the corporation and pays an Annual Community and Water Service Fee. This fee includes water usage, contribution to a capital replacement reserve fund for the water system and other community property, and general operating expenses for the corporation.
11. Participation in Community Decision-Making
Every TCA stockholder has the opportunity and responsibility to participate in the Annual Meeting of the Corporation during which critical information is presented and discussed, and decisions are made regarding TCA’s assets management, including the water system. In your absence at this meeting, a proxy with full capacity to act on your behalf is required for a voting quorum. Between meetings, the TCA Board welcomes input from stockholders regarding the water system or other activities in and around Tauxemont.
The community remains grateful and indebted to its Licensed Operator and water committee volunteers who are dedicated to keeping our system safe and operational. New committee members are always needed and welcome to help TCA ensure the continued enjoyment of our water!
13. Water Quality Issues
Water users have a right to water meeting the quality standards established by the Virginia Department of Health (an annual water report is provided as required by law). If customers have a water quality question, problem, or complaint please contact the TCA Board President or Water Committee Chairman for assistance. If a waterworks customer wishes to elevate an issue regarding water quality, they may contact VDH Office of Water’s regional office in Culpepper, VA.
In the event of a water quality breach, affected water users will be notified in accordance to VDH requirements.
Water Problems & Emergencies
Water problems can range from common issues to emergencies caused by power failures, water main breaks, critical equipment failures which disrupt the distribution of water, and drought. TCA has developed responses to these various emergencies, as outlined below.
A. At Your Home
Decrease in water pressure
If water pressure to your home decreases, contact the Water Committee. If it’s determined that pressure loss is not the result of a community water main/well problem, then there may be a leak, break, or clog in the homeowner’s service line (some Tauxemont lines are more than sixty years old). Water users will be notified of any anticipated water pressure reductions due to water works maintenance.
Note: TCA does not wish to impinge upon a homeowner’s privacy. In the event of a water emergency on your property, the TCA Board and Water Committee shall limit their actions to only those necessary. For example, if the pipe from TCA’s main to the house breaks, resulting in flooding, a water committee member may turn off the water at the roadside shutoff valve. Water committee members will never enter a home without permission.
Discoloration of water
If discoloration appears after one of our quarterly water system flushings, running your water until it clears should fix the problem. If discoloration is not the result of system flushing, contact the Water Committee to report the problem. (See FAQs below for additional information)
B. Community-Wide Emergencies
TCA owns a power generator to operate the water system in times of emergency. The generator helps bring the system back on line if the pumps are shut down by a power outage.
During an electrical outage, members are asked to abstain from flushing toilets, doing laundry, washing dishes, using sprinklers or running water in the sink, bathtub, or shower. If the power loss is community-wide, the water committee will hook up the emergency power generator to one of the three wells, thereby restoring service quickly. A power outage to your home could, but doesn’t necessarily, mean an outage to the pumps; our pumps are connected via dedicated lines suspended from a number of dame poles. Please contact Dominion Virginia Power as soon as an outage occurs.
C. County or State Emergencies
Although TCA is independent and our water system is not connected to Fairfax Water, we must abide by any county-, state-, or federally-mandated water emergency procedures or regulations requiring reducing usage and conserving, consistent with county and state announcements.
Responses to Drought in Virginia
TCA recognizes that an area-wide drought affects all water sources, including our own aquifer.
Drought monitoring, evaluation and response in the Commonwealth of Virginia are guided by the Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan and the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), an interagency group responsible for monitoring drought conditions and making recommendations for Drought Stage declarations (each Drought Stage involves a list of response activities that are generally initiated when a specific Drought Stage declaration is made).
Detailed information about each Stage and the water restrictions that take effect in the case of a drought emergency can be found on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality website at www. deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.
Although the decision to ration water is made by the TCA Board, the Virginia Drought Coordinator would work closely with us to assure that all available State resources are effectively used to support highly stressed water supply systems. In such a circumstance, our Board and Licenced Operator would work closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), which will coordinate the Commonwealth’s response and assistance to all similar entities. During emergencies TCA will rely on the Virginia news media to provide us with up to date information on the various stages of the drought.
NOTE: It is possible – yet unlikely – that the aquifer could run dry in a prolonged drought. Before it runs dry it would be drawn down to a point where the well’s production is seriously reduced.
In the event of an emergency or disaster, clean drinking water may not be available due to being cut-off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency. For more information visit www.ready.gov/water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Tauxemont water fluoridated?
A: No. You can add fluoride drops to your personal drinking water if you desire, or need to have, fluoridated water.
Q: Why is my water sometimes cloudy?
A: Air bubbles, caused by water pressure, can cause water to appear cloudy at times. It is harmless and usually clears up in seconds.
Q: How will you alert me if my water is not safe to drink due to a water system problem or emergency?
A: The Water Committee and TCA Board does its best to provide accurate status reports about water safety in the event of a system problem or water emergency. Communicating safety status is done a number of ways including posting to our social media network (NextdoorTauxemont), emails, phone calls or texts via a phone tree, word-of-mouth, and/or hand-delivered notices. Non-emergency status reports are shared in our monthly community newsletter and/or via social media.
Q: Why can’t I locate my property’s shut-off valves?
A: Home renovations may have changed its location or made it hard to reach the internal valve. The most common reason for hidden external valves is inadvertent burial due to building or landscaping, and unchecked growth of trees and shrubs. (See page 6, item 3 for additional information)
Q: Why is my drinking water discolored?
A: Water main breaks, and extremely high system demand, can increase the velocity at which water travels through water mains. If the water’s speed becomes great enough, iron and manganese oxide sediment lying on the bottom of the mains may get stirred up, resulting in discolored water.
Q: Is discolored water from these activities safe to drink?
A: Discolored water caused by iron and manganese oxide sediment is safe to drink. During such discolored water episodes, your water continues to meet all State and federal drinking water standards for public health and safety.
Q: What should I do if my drinking water be comes discolored?
A: Avoid using your washing machine and dishwasher until the water clears. Flush the pipes in your home by using the following procedure:
1. Run the outside front house faucet at full force for a few minutes or until water clears. If water does not clear wait one hour and repeat the process.
2. Flush the cold water facuets in your home, starting with the bathtub. If wasting water is a concern, run water from the back yard house faucet for several minutes or until water clears.
3. After the bathtub or back yard faucet runs clear, flush all other cold water household faucets, starting from the front of the home (side nearest the street) through the back.
4. If necessary remove faucet aerators, clear of any particles, and reinstall.
After flushing my pipes, my cold water runs clear but my hot water is still discolored - what should I do?
If discolored water has been drawn into the hot water system, the hot water can continue to be used until the discoloration dissipates and is no longer an aestheric issue. This is generally preferred to draining and refilling the water heater which may require the assistance of a plumber.
As a small waterworks, TCA relies on - and works in cooperation with - partner agencies and organizations similar to our own an an effort to learn and stay current, and we encourage all waterworks customers to learn more about our water.
VA Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ): www.deq.virginia.gov
DEQ’s Drought Stages: www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx
Virginia Dept. of Health (VDH) Office of Drinking Water: www.vdh.virginia.gov/drinking-water/
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water
EPA’s WaterSense Program: www.epa.gov/watersense
Virginia Rural Water Association: www.vrwa.org
Virginia Cooperative Extension (creating a Water-Wise landscape): www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-713/426-713.html
Fairfax County (harvesting water in barrels): www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/rain-barrel
Ridge Utilities (small, community water system similar to TCA’s): www.ridgeutilities.com
American Water Works Association: www.drinktap.org
Go to the Water Conservation page of this website for additional conservation resources.