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The Service Authority is responsible for the existing and future public water and sanitary sewer systems in most of Prince William County. This involves the general maintenance, upgrades, and new construction of sewer and water facilities as the need arises in our community. To accomplish new construction on private property, it becomes necessary to acquire easements and right-of-way to allow installation of utilities and to guarantee access for future maintenance by a public agency. The Service Authority's goal is to ensure that an easement right is obtained in the most fair and economical means without adversely impacting the property. This brochure will provide you with information about the Service Authority's process of acquiring easements and right-of-ways for our utility projects as well as answers to commonly asked questions regarding this process. The Service Authority is prepared to assist you by all means available so that you develop a clear understanding of the project as well as its impact and benefits to you, your property and the citizens of Prince William County.

What is an easement?

An easement is a legal document that conveys limited property rights from the grantor (Owner) to the grantee (Service Authority). An easement only grants restricted use of the property as detailed in the deed of easement and plat, and is not a transfer in real estate ownership. For this reason, easements are usually obtained through donations or negotiations. There are two types of easements commonly employed in the construction of public water and sewer utility projects. The first is a permanent easement and right-of way that grants perpetual rights to access, install, inspect, construct, adding, altering, operate, repair, replace, and maintain specified utility pipelines or facilities. The second is a temporary easement that conveys temporary access and construction rights that terminate upon the completion of the construction of the project.

How will I be informed of the utility project?

A Service Authority Project Manager will initially contact you via mail, to provide information about the proposed project, its scope and impact on your land. Following this, a package will be assembled and hand delivered to the owner by an easement negotiator representing the Service Authority. This informational package usually includes the proposed deed of easement, a plan or sketch illustrating the location of the utility, a fair value assessment and any other supporting data that will assist you in understanding the scope of the project. You will be given a reasonable period of time to review the contents of the package and to respond, to ask questions, to request a meeting, or to grant the easement.

How is an easement acquired?

Utility easements are acquired during one of the following two phases: the negotiation period or during the condemnation (Eminent Domain) period. After review of the informational package, if the landowner desires to donate the requested easement without compensation, this can be accomplished by signing and notarizing the proposed easement document. If the landowner desires to receive compensation for the value of the requested easement rights, the negotiation period begins. Based on the fair value assessment established for the easement, and/or if a negotiated sum is agreed upon, the revised document is signed and notarized by the landowner and delivered to the Service Authority in exchange for the agreed payment. Most often, easements are granted during this period.

However, if no agreement can be reached and no reasonable alternative locations for the utility installation can be established, the Service Authority's Board of Directors may elect to obtain the required easement right by condemnation. Used rarely and only as a last resort, condemnation of easement property rights under the Powers of Eminent Domain has been granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia to protect the rights of the property owner as well as the community.

What does the appraisal process involve?

A Basic Appraisal Report (BAR) establishes monetary value for the property rights being transferred with a given easement. Initially, the compensation offered is based on tax assessments and the Service Authority's prior experience with easement acquisitions and valuations. Compensation in excess of the appraised value of the rights being acquired may be offered as an incentive for the landowner to voluntarily grant the easement. An on-site meeting to review the project and compensation offer is beneficial at this stage.

If the value of the easement is over $10,000 based on the BAR, the Service Authority will employ an outside certified appraiser. Based on current accepted practices, your property will be evaluated and a fair monetary value established. Since an easement involves a partial use of the property and is not a transfer of ownership of all property rights, value will be less than if the property was bought outright (fee simple) by the Service Authority. You may want to accompany the appraiser to point out any unusual features or to provide information that you think will be useful as part of the appraisal. Once the appraisal has been completed, the monetary value established will be offered as fair market value for the easement.

How are negotiations carried out?

Negotiations may be completed, in person, by telephone or through the USPS provided the project is not unusual, or does not involve site visits, or community meetings. A Service Authority representative (the Project Manager and/or the easement negotiator) will be available at all times to talk by telephone or meet in person as the need arises. If you have questions about the project, the monetary consideration offered, or how the project will affect your property, do not hesitate to ask the representative. You will have a stated period of time to consider the offer, and the representative will contact you again to discuss the offer and answer questions.

What if I decide to grant the easement?

If you decide to grant the easement, sign the documents, have them notarized and return them to the Service Authority. It is essential that all persons or entities having any ownership interest in a given property are identified, listed as a grantor in the deed of easement agreement and sign the deed in the presence of a notary public.

How will I be paid for the easement?

Upon delivering the signed and notarized easement documents to the Service Authority, a check for the amount agreed to during negotiations will be processed. The check will be mailed to the Owner’s taxation address (unless otherwise specified) once the easement is recorded in the Circuit Court of Records.

What if I am unwilling to grant the easement?

If good faith negotiations fail to result in an easement grant, the Service Authority will look at other possibilities for installing the utilities. However, if alternative routes for installation are not economically feasible, then the Service Authority will consider utilizing its powers of eminent domain, including the use of the Quick Take procedures by the Virginia Code, to condemn the required easement rights. Prior to doing so, the property owner will be notified by certified mail of the final request for the easement grant with the highest monetary offer the Service Authority is willing to provide. Compensation in excess of the appraised value of the easements being acquired is to be viewed only as an incentive for the property owner to voluntarily grant the easement. If condemnation proceedings become necessary, the Service Authority is legally obligated to offer only the appraised value. Eminent domain proceedings will be initiated only after a report has been submitted to the General Manager and authorization to proceed has been approved by the Service Authority's Board of Directors.

A Certificate of Take along with the deed of easement and plat, will be recorded in the Circuit Court Records, and funds equal to the appraised valuation will be deposited with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. At this point, you can accept the funds at the Clerk’s office or proceed with your legal counsel to resolve the matter in court. Once a Certificate of Take is filed, the Service Authority must file a condemnation suit within a reasonable time frame; however   the Service Authority can immediately proceed with the construction projects while protecting your rights as a property owner to receive fair value.

What if I lose vegetation during construction?

It is a normal occurrence during the process of construction to lose trees and vegetation. Throughout the design of the project, the Service Authority will do its best to minimize impact on current site conditions. The appraisal will also take into account any loss of vegetation.  The Service Authority will require the contractor to restore your property to existing or better condition prior to start of construction.

What if I am unhappy with the construction?

If you are dissatisfied with site conditions during the course of construction or following construction, contact your Service Authority Project Manager. The Service Authority will investigate your concerns and take the appropriate action. This action may involve a determination that the project development and the site restoration is or is not in compliance with the project specifications.

Where can I get additional information?

Contact the Service Authority Project Manager in charge of the project, she or he will be your best source of assistance. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the information or service provided, please call the Director of Engineering and Planning.

In Person

Samer Beidas, P.E., CCM, Director

Division of Engineering & Planning

4 County Complex Court

Woodbridge, VA 22192

By Phone

(703) 335-7934

By Email


By Mail

Samer Beidas, P.E., CCM, Director

Division of Engineering & Planning

P.O. Box 2266

Woodbridge, VA 22195-2266