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Agreement ends water war in Fairfax County

Monday - 4/15/2013, 6:00am  ET

WASHINGTON - The big water war between Fairfax County and its independent cities and towns has ended and customers could be the winners.

Residents who receive their water from the smaller utilities of the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and the Town of Vienna for years complained they were paying almost double what their neighbors in the rest of Fairfax County paid for water.

Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors tried to correct that with an ordinance calling for rate equality.

But the three communities, with independent governments, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge that ordinance.

Now, an agreement involving all the parties will end the lawsuit.

Fairfax City has agreed to sell its water system to Fairfax Water, the independent water system that serves the rest of the county.

Vienna also will purchase water from Fairfax Water, while Falls Church voters will be asked to approve a similar deal in November.

Fairfax Water spokeswoman Jeanne Bailey says the changes will lower the rates for thousands of customers in all three communities within three years.

In a written statement, Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne says the greatest benefit to the city will be not having to spend millions of dollars on capital improvements over the next decade.

Those costs will now be the responsibility of Fairfax Water, however, the city will still retain all debt associated with the water system.

Providing service to the City of Fairfax will not impact the rates other Fairfax Water customers pay, according to the agreement.

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