Council holds three-hour work session on water supply plan

The Charlottesville City Council will vote on the City’s water and sewer rates at its first meeting in June. It may take them that long to digest the presentations made this week at a three-hour work session. Mayor Dave Norris scheduled the event to explore one main question: Should dredging of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir (SFRR) be part of the solution to address the community’s water supply needs?

“This is a chance to consider a variety of options with this plan,” Norris said. The City’s water and sewer rates will reflect how much money the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) needs to start implementation of the Community Water Supply. The plan has already received approval from the Department of Environmental Quality and Federal approval by the Army Corps of Engineers is pending and expected by the end of the May 2008.

Councilors heard a history of the efforts to secure a long-term community water supply plan, received an overview of the assumptions that factored into the plan adopted in 2006, and heard presentations on how dredging would work and how effective it might be in creating extra capacity for the community’s water system.

Read more at Charlottesville Tomorrow, including a timeline. Please comment and let us know your opinion.

One Reply to “Council holds three-hour work session on water supply plan”

  1. according to Cvilletomorrow, here are the arguments from speakers supporting the current plan:

    1) “Show leadership and continue to support the plan” Wow, that’s a compelling argument. Because we all know that a true leader follows the established plan, no matter how flawed it might be.

    2) “The adopted plan is the “least environmentally damaging solution”” Maybe compared to the James River Pipeline, but not to our plan. Rivanna’s scheme clear cuts 180 acres of trees, inundates 14,033 linear feet of streams, lets the SFRR fill with sediment (until it starts dumping the sediment load over the dam and into the river below – a process our river loving friends now call “equilibrium”) and requires a 9 ½ mile trench through which a new river will be buried in a pipe. The electrical requirements of pumping this new underground river 300 feet uphill will require burning 1000 tons of coal annually. Other than the dredging, which requires a fraction of the energy of the pipeline, the only environmental impact of our plan is to restore the health of the South Fork reservoir.

    3) “Money on dredging would divert money from capital improvements to increase reliable storage” Increasing the capacity of the South Fork Reservoir is the most reliable storage you can possibly get. What do you think is more reliable? Using chemicals to take the sediment out of the water and then pumping 25 million gallons of water uphill every day? Or gravity?

    4) “Further delay would increase the construction costs, raising the price tag for the whole plan” Exactly. Rivanna has delayed on dredging for long enough. They said they were going to do the dredging when they raised our rates by nearly 100 percent. That is what Gannett Fleming was hired to do. If the Rivanna Board had done what they said when they took our money, the dredging would have been done by now and we wouldn’t have had to close the pools last summer. Get on with it already!

    5) “Council need[s] to take steps to make sure there is enough clean drinking water for “our children and our children’s children.” No argument there. Our plan does that.

    6) “Albemarle County and Greene County should do more to control sedimentation in the Rivanna River Basin “before one dime is spent on dredging” the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.” I’m sorry but that is ridiculous. Its like saying that you should do more to control the rain before spending one dime on painting your house. Sedimentation is not some sort of abnormal condition like a burst pipe that needs to be fixed. It has taken 42 years for the reservoir to partially fill with sediment. We could remove it in a less than a year if we wanted to.

    7) “The community need[s] to decide what role it wanted that Reservoir to play before undertaking a dredging program.” Um, I thought the role we decided for Reservoir when we built it was to provide drinking water. When did that change?

    8) “It is now our turn to invest in a plan that provides for at least the next 50 years, and we certainly hope more. We should bear this cost, and should be willing to bear this cost because it is our turn to bear it.” Wow! The developers couldnt have said it better. Who cares if we can do it cheaper! Higher water bills are our civic duty now! So what other 50 year costs are we now willing to bear because it is our turn? How about a new bypass? After all, the City built one. Isnt it the County’s turn now? And since we’re so flush with cash, why don’t we just pay for the next 50 years worth of development. Oh, wait. We’re already doing that.

    9) “If you have to raise the dam part of the way, it doesn’t cost much more to raise it the rest of the way”. Ahh, but it does. Once you go beyond about 25 additional feet, then the only way to fill it without completely depleting the Moormans is with a 60 million dollar pipeline with huge annual operating costs

    10) “The risks of not being conservative in your estimating [of future demand] are significant” First we have an option which can meet the inflated Rivanna demand number if that is what the community wants to do. Second, what is the point of conserving water if Rivanna is going to go out and build more infrastructure than we need anyway. Why should I get a rain barrel if Rivanna is going to charge me for enough water to build my own golf course?

    I’m still waiting to hear a compelling argument in favor of the current scheme. To see some better alternatives, see

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