Suddenly Satyendra: Huja may hold key to region's water future

news-reservoirhuja-iHuja has warned that wars will someday be fought over water.
PHOTOS SKIP DEGAN, WILLIAM WALKER

After a career spent tinkering within the limits of his job as the Charlottesville planning director, freshman City Councilor Satyendra Huja suddenly finds himself the decider in a contentious cross-border debate that some critics fear could double local water bills. City Council has set a Monday, September 20 public hearing to determine whether to dredge the main existing reservoir, build a massive new dam, or both.

"I guess I'm the swing vote, and that's not a bad place to be," Huja says in an interview that comes just a day after a dredge equipment executive suggests that Charlottesville has become the laughingstock of the dredging industry for allowing consultants to talk the city out of saving its existing reservoir.

Four years ago, Charlottesville and Albemarle officially dismissed dredging as a viable option after a Pennsylvania-based engineering firm claimed the cost might top $223 million. However, following a recent boat tour, the regional sales manager for Ellicott Dredges walked away with a different opinion.

"The scale and scope of the project was so much smaller than I had imagined," Steve Miller told reporters and officials during a September 15 meeting, one day after his tour of the silt-choked Rivanna Reservoir, the major drinking water lake for the Charlottesville-Albemarle urban areas.

Miller told the gathering in the main library that he often travels to municipalities to perform a "sanity check" when he hears numbers that don't make sense to him, such as that $223 million, which came from a firm called Gannett Fleming. Even a thriftier prognosis from a Richmond-area firm called HDR struck Miller as needlessly overwrought with its call–-  for dredging 1.4 million cubic yards of material–- to spend up to $40 million and let dewatering operations sprawl across dozens of acres of land.

news-water-stevemillerdragondredge-mMiller (with Dragon photo): "I was kind of expecting that [dredging] budget to be part of building a dam or maybe pumping the material to another state."
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

Miller offered to sell local water officials one of his firm's "Dragons" along with all pumps, piping, and dewatering equipment for under $2 million. He says such an operation, run by a team of three locally-hired machine operators, could easily extract  100,000 cubic yards annually for just $1 million a year in salaries, fuel, and other expenses. That even includes the dewatering, says Miller, noting that the dewatering machines would occupy less than an acre.

Miller also told the gathering that selling off the dirt and sand could bring revenue to further reduce the cost. J.W. Clayton & Son, the venerable topsoil and mulch operation near the Mechums River near Crozet retails the stuff for $330 for a six cubic yard load. Even if the wholesale price is half that, simple math suggests that topsoil–- dredged for $10 per yard–- might sell for over $25 per yard. (Luck Stone sells B-grade sand, another one of the spoils of dredging for $31.50 per yard.)

While Miller conceded that market conditions can vary, he issued a warning that the option to dredge may not last forever.

"Pretty soon," said Miller, "you won't have a lake to dredge."

UVA Rowing Coach Kevin Sauer needed no reminder.

news-claytonsons2Why dredging might be free: Clayton & Son sells topsoil for $55/yard.
FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

"It's a travesty," said Sauer, expressing frustration that the Reservoir hasn't been dredged since its 1966 construction. "Rowing team or not, this is a really important resource."

Albemarle Supervisor Dennis Rooker, longtime defender of the new dam proposal and one of the members of a body created last year to downplay dredging as a water resource, took a dimmer view of the dredging option.

"Kevin," said Rooker, "are you gonna be covering some of the cost of that?"

Sauer replied that at a minimum the UVA boathouse/rowing club property would offer its site for dewatering.

All this comes after a whirlwind of revelations over the past two years including soaring water rates, a memo showing that the new dam won't work without a 9.5-mile pipeline, and a longterm downward trend that since 1999 has seen local water consumption–- despite increasing population–- falling by 22 percent.

Charlottesville resident Dede Smith, yet another person present for the meeting, contends that a 1992 federal law has begun painlessly reducing water usage via new low-flow showerheads, toilets, and washing machines every time an older home gets renovated. Recently, Smith learned to her horror that the pipeline–- necessary to make the dam work–- isn't even included in the local waterworks' capital improvement plan.

"This water plan will double your water bill," says Smith.

In January, Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris defied waterworks director Tom Frederick by opting to hire independent engineers to study the strength of another existing reservoir. (Frederick had tried to hire Schnabel Engineering, the firm already commissioned to build the new dam, which would require clearing about 150 acres of trees on City land).

Now, sources indicate that Norris, the one person who has blocked the rush to create a new reservoir by also commissioning studies on conservation and dredging, has been outgunned–- that one of his fellow City Councilors pushed the issue onto the September 20 agenda with the belief that Councilor Huja will join longtime dam proponent David Brown and Democratic insider Kristin Szakos in voting to let the new dam happen. Norris and Councilor Holly Edwards may be pushed into a deal that builds a forest-destroying dam.

It's not soon enough for the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce which joins the Nature Conservancy, which spearheaded the dam/pipeline plan, in endorsing that plan as the one providing the most water for the money.

“Despite all the extra study, additional public spending, and never-ending debate, little has been added and nothing significant has been demonstrated to cause our community to walk away from the 2006 unanimous public approvals of the water supply plan,” says Chamber Chair W. Rod Gentry in a release. That view disappoints equipment-moving Miller and others who have been pushing dredging as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative.

"It's not rocket science," said Miller, a nuclear engineer by training. He points out that his firm, which has been selling dredging equipment since 1885, frequently sends him to conferences organized by the Western Dredging Association, or WEDA. "It's certainly going to make a good story at the next WEDA meeting."

****

On September 18, on his blog, Norris clarifies what he really wants (and what makes him the most fiscally conservative leader in this whole debate). He calls for dredging the Rivanna Reservoir at a slow pace–- "using a market-oriented approach in which we only dredge as much fill as we can sell or use at any given time–- and wants to add a small pool increase/repair to the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

–-last updated with Norris proposal and Clayton pricing around 6:30pm, Saturday, September 18. Luck Stone pricing a coupla days later.

Read more on: Dave Norrisdredging

51 comments

I also agree we should not stall a decision any longer and we should do what was planned in 2002 and dredge the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, immediately. No matter what else we do in the next 50 years this must be done. It is ridiculous to stall this any longer, and as is shown in this article, communities with reservoirs just like ours, and much larger, are doing this at a fraction of the cost we have been quoted.

If you agree with this approach please come to the public hearing at City council chambers this Monday at 7pm or e-mail counicl at

council@charlottesville.org

Together as a community, city and county, we can get the reservoir dredged now, and no longer fear any lack of adequate water supply, in case of drought for decades to come.

The future of our water bills, South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, and Raggec Mt Natural area are in our hands. Our leaders are elected to represent the ratepayers, let them hear from you.

I've said it once, and I will say it again:

The County needs to decide if it wants to be a county, or a city.

If it wants to be a city, it should give up all the areas right against the city which have the address ' Charlottesville ' , to the City, and take a look at limiting their own development.

For all of its screaming about money, the County sure does like to spend everyone else's money for their needs, while never raising the tax rate. State money, City money.... Everything from the Revenue sharing deal on down the line is an example of the County not wanting to take responsibility for the revenue problems. Grow up and deal.

Living in the County for me is about living in the County away from the fuss, and I expect to live off of well water, have limited services, and refuse to commute in and out every day. I don't want to pay for the developers and urban sprawl. The County needs to stop growing.

We do not need more water. We need to dredge, be frugal, and tell the developers to leave.

Is this true ? David Brown works for Oliver Kuttner and is opposed to dredging ?

Dave Norris - Pride of Marsteller Middle School! Go Medics!

CvilleNative, whether or not the hook has provided in depth and unbiased reporting on this issue in the past, an article needs to stand on its own as published. If the facts are as stark as you say, why all pejorative and value-laden spin in the article?

Speaking for myself, when someone tries really, really hard to convince me to hold a particular opinion, I get suspicious. Especially when that someone is supposed to be a "journalist".

And if that journalist's paper "reported" for however long and with just as much depth that the RWSA was pursuing a baseless lawsuit against a private interest such as Van Der Linde, and then that lawsuit results in a $900,000 settlement, my BS antennae is beeping really, really hard.

It speaks to credibility. Once a paper goes all in on a story and turns out to be wrong, it's hard to get that credibility back.

I was also at this very informative meeting, and appreciate the only in depth report on it's contents, by the Hook.

Dede Smith and I are members of Citizens for A Sustainable Water Plan. Since 2007 we have tried to bring factual information to the public and to the elected officials. Our effort is to make sure that this tremendous expenditure of money, and possible destruction of City owned resources, is in the best interest of the ratepayers and our community.

We have created a web-site based on actual documents from the RWSA and studies conducted by the City. Please look at our web-site. We have tried above all to be accurate, and have asked for any corrections where someone finds us in error.

Thank you to everyone working to make a decision based on verifiable facts, by independent unbiased sources.

http://www.cvillewater.info/

A dredging device with "all pumps, piping, and dewatering equipment for under $2 million. ... such an operation, run by a team of three locally-hired machine operators, could easily extract 100,000 cubic yards annually for just $1 million a year in salaries, fuel, and other expenses. That even includes the dewatering ..."

At such a reasonable price why not try it out for a year or two? Negotiate a rent-to-own agreement.

PEHook

"Charlottesville has become the laughingstock of the dredging industry"
***
Oh, how we ever hold our heads high again at the big annual dredging conventions?

Seriously, Hawes deserves an award for his "muckraking" dredging stories.

I like my bad pun!

It's pretty clear that the author of this article has an opinion about this issue. It's not unlike when the Hook was publishing so many articles about the Van Der Linde lawsuit, which resulted in a $900,000 settlement.

Frankly, it's hard to see the issues clearly through all the biased "reporting".

It would be fiducially criminal to not take this route.

Dede Smith has appeared in public and on the public airways as a representative of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply Plan (http://tinyurl.com/38eqh8z), the pro-dredging, anti-new dam group, but is identified as "yet another person present for the meeting" and against the new project? Boo, Hawes.

Uhh, meanwhile, it looks as though people pretty much everyone, including RSWA, agreed that RSWA's partner, BFI, had undercharged haulers, for whatever reason.

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2009/04/20/wasted-revenue-auth...

"In 2005, seven years after the RSWA inked a deal with a firm called Allied Waste (then BFI and now part of a publicly held company called Republic Services) to send area waste to Allied’s waste station in Zion Crossroads, RSWA officials learned that Allied employees were ââ?¬Å?completely unaware” of their duty to collect a $16 ââ?¬Å?service contribution fee” for the Authority every time in-district (i.e. Charlottesville and Albemarle) waste crossed company scales.

ââ?¬Å?Proper charging and accounting of customers has been inaccurately managed,” RSWA finance director Lonnie Wood told Allied officials in a November 2005 letter. ââ?¬Å?[T]here has been and continues to be a breach of contact.”"

And the settlement also dissolved the 1997 agreement between RSWA and BFI, which is what Van Der Linde wanted.

Sure, Hawes expresses his opinion in the stories on these issues. The opinion is usually that doing stupid and expensive things with taxpayer money is dumb.

Oliver come home we need you. Isn't David Brown your PR guy --hey why not make him the head of the dredge operation. Or at least talk some sense into him. I've heard he's voting for the dam.

" Two years ago, Kuttner helped embarrass local water officialsââ?¬â? who were busily portraying dredging their main reservoir as impossibly expensiveââ?¬â? by offering to dredge for $30 million, a fraction of the quarter-billion one consultant claimed it might cost. ââ?¬Å?It would be a dream job,” Kuttner said. ââ?¬Å?I’ll make so much money.”

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2008/03/13/COVER-reservoir-LostOpport...

Sure, Hawes expresses his opinion in the stories on these issues. The opinion is usually that spending lots of taxpayer money in stupid ways is generally dumb.

Sikh and ye shall find.

Let's get on with a plan. Whether it's a combination of dredging, a new pipeline, or a safer damn, it's time for a decision to be made. I supported City Council when they voted in favor of the adopted water supply plan, but I can't say that I will do the same if they decide to go squarely against Albemarle County and our communities need for a more reliable water supply.

Gannett Fleming was a dam/pipeline company that told us dredging would cost $223 million, they do no dredging, look at their web-site. They won the contract to design the dam and took home millions of dollars of our money. Then their concrete dam tripled in price, RWSA fired them when they refused to take the risk on themselves of a cheaper dam design. They didn't have a conflict of interest ?

Now RWSA hired another dam design company ( Schnabel) who told us, along with all the other dam building supporters, that our current dam at Ragged Mt. is no good and we must build a new dam ( which Schnabel is being paid millions to design)
And they don't have a conflict of interest ?

The City paid for their own study by another company Black and Veitch and their report shows; not only is the current dam sound, but excellent and can be repaired to last. In the future if needed it could be raised at a cheaper price than building a new dam.

In 2002 we had a water plan to dredge and put a bladder on South Fork giving us decades of water. The RWSA trashed that contract .

Since throwing away the 2002 plan- the RWSA has spent over $12 million on studies, and wants to take on massive debt, with interest payments, to build a new dam and new uphill pipeline, that is now unnecessary to store water for drought, because of 10 years of falling water use.

When customers are buying less water RWSA has to raise water bills to cover their debt, infrastructure, maintenance and administrative costs.

Why would any business spend hundreds of millions and go into debt if there was a more economical way to reach their goal for the forseeable future. What business plans 50 years away and builds that now ?

The real problem here is the RWSA. If the elected officials go forward with this massive debt laden water plan, when there is no valid data to support it, the citizens should immediately launch a campaign to disband RWSA, which is their right, by referendum.

The dam/pipeline plan only benefits a few but the majority of us will be responsible for paying the debt.

"non-sellable material which is the vast majority of the dredge spoil"

I am not disputing what you say but that surprises me. I would have thought that the majority of the soil dredged would be topsoil that has been washed into the river/reservoir. Just a non-educated (in this field) observation.

It would be very interesting to hear why the vast majority of dredge spoil is non-sellable.

Why do my intelligent posts keep getting eaten?

once again it's the simple, low-tech answer that makes sense - stop building McMansions that require massive outlays of water to irrigate preposterous landscapes, reduce demand through efficiency and code compliance for showerheads, appliances, etc., and stop hiring consultants who can smell that easy money from hundreds of miles away. clearly water and watershed issues are rapidly overtaking every other environmental and social concern which should give us pause before we wipe out watershed and riparian buffers like McIntire Park, and ultimately the Rivanna. Innovation, like Oliver Kuttner's Edison Project are what we need - why isn't the E-School working on this real-world project instead of third-world scenarios? Let's challenge C'ville to go for zero diversion of this precious resource for boutique projects on new water parks and wasteful publicly-financed fantasies

Water Plan Public Hearing Monday Sept 20th 7pm, everyone can speak, even if you don't sign up, or have a seat in the Council Chambers.

Come early to support Dave Norris, and the monumental effort he has put forth to make sure our most valuable water resource, for the entire community, is dredged for our future water supply.

Join Citizens for A Sustainable Water Plan and the Sierra Club - to make sure your voice is heard in favor of dredging for our water supply plan, not as carrot, to be done someday in the future, but as a major component of the plan to be done now !

Dave Norris's terrific plan may be up for a vote tomorrow and Mr. Huja may decide the future of the Ragged Mt. Natural Area, and whether 60,000 mature trees are clear cut; the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, and whether it is dredged for our water supply. All facts point to this as the most economical and least environmentally damaging first step to supplying our community with decades of affordable water, and giving us the flexibility not to borrow money if it is not needed to build new infrastructure.

Please e-mail Council if you have not already and support the Norris Plan and dredging as the first step. We will then have time to determine if a higher dam is necessary, before destroying so many City owned resources and forcing ratepayer to bear the burden of higher water rates at a time when our water use ( per capita) is dropping dramatically.

e-mail Council at:

Council@charlottesville.org

Read the Norris Plan at:

http://cvilledave.blogspot.com/2010/09/better-path-forward-on-water.html

http://www.dredge.com/maintenace-dredge-equipment/reservoir-dredging-equ...

Sounds like we could buy a bunch of these for what, $200M?
Local government squanders as much on consultants as could have been used to buy one of these machines and set it working. One sees them at work maintaining navigable channels in coastal waters, but I guess Charlottesville is one of those places where one could carry that oar and know to stop because people wouldn't know what it was. This dry summer is really kicking butt on that reservoir and you can't hardly go upstream too far in a canoe without running aground on all the sandbars. If perchance it doesn't rain before November, we're looking at water restrictions again.

A man who does this every days says he can save $200,000,000 and its biased to report about? How so. If so I wish more were so biased! I want to cry when I think about where this city I loved is going, something else crooked evertime I open the news.

Sure, Hawes expresses his opinion in the stories on these issues. The opinion is usually that spendings lots of taxpayer money in stupid ways is generally dumb.

Jenn, you do understand that this man is a businessman whose company will profit from the course he is proposing, right?

That is called a "conflict of interest". And this is just short of "advertising".

Mr. Spencer obviously supports dredging, but apparently believes the $223 million price tag to be too steep. So the "regional sales manager for Ellicott Dredges" claims he could do it cheaper. But dredging is off the table.

Meanwhile, David Norris has "blocked the rush" from the "democratic insider" politicians but may be "out-gunned" and "pushed" into building a "forest-destroying dam".

Whoooo-weee! Yep! Nothing biased about that "reporting"! Nothing at all.

@CIBT

The Hook has been writing about this for 3 years. They have covered every angle of this debate with unbelievable thoroughness, including 100's of documents, many they requested themselves from the water authority. No other publication or news outlet in town has done this. They have interviewed both sides, and instead of representing a special interest, they have stuck to factual reporting. Maybe the facts point in the direction that after 3 years - we don't need a dam, water use has dropped and dredging is far cheaper and less environmentally damaging . The facts are what should matter. That's what I read here. Please point out something here, or in any of the articles in the voluminous writing by Mr. Spencer, that is not factual.

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2008/11/01/story-archive-hook-...

i'd wager that there are more than a few conflicts of interest at work here. at least mr. spencer's don't seem to be making him money or protecting his personal interests at other peoples' expense.

i meant to add "biases" right after mr. spencer's in that last comment with the "" included

Yeah, Hawes has a clear bias here and in the RSWA stories. He's against politicians wasting lots of taxpayer money on stupid things.

Ragged - The County citizens don't c are about the City, and always complain about the City, demand the City do things for them, yet they never seem to want to be a part of the City.

Having been a country resident for many years living on well water and a truly county lifestyle, I say let County residents drink coke. Living in a County means you don't get to have shopping centers next door, you have to plan about your shipping, you need to conserve water, you need to plan for the weather.

The county loves to spend other people's money and take other people's assets while they plan stupid developments and clog up national highways and refuse to raise taxes to pay for it.

If the County stops growing a dredging WILL take care of problems until most of us are dead. The City isn't growing much. The County made sure of that.

Boo.

Great, my post disappeared but that part showed up.

From what I've studied, dredging seems like a very good option in this situation. Of course, I'd like to at least hear the other side of the story, which this article completely fails to provide. Shouldn't the executive editor of this newspaper hold himself to a standard of unbiased reporting, regardless of his opinion? Isn't there another argument against dredging besides the uncertain cost i.e. how much volume will dredging actually free up for water to be stored? I see none of that here at all. Wouldn't it be great if the Hook could list the pros and cons of each alternative clearly so we could have informed opinions?

SFRR is and will continue to be, under all scenarios, where we get our drinking water from. The deeper, clearer (less suspended sediment) the water is, the less treatment it needs. You either have to take the sediment out of the reservoir, or you have to take it out of the water that you take out of the reservoir. Piping sediment laden water to Ragged Mt. will only serve to move the problem 9.5 miles away. Why not spend the money on dredging and have a reservoir for water impoundment and recreation rather than let it silt in and still have to pay $$$ to remove sediment from every drop of water you ever take out of the Rivanna forever after?
This whole new dam issue springs from simple ownership of assets concerns, in my opinion. The County currently owns one piece of water supply infrastructure that contributes to RWSA's production, the 2M gallon per day intake on the NFRR. The City OWNS the rest. County power brokers worry the City may one day dissolve RWSA, take its ball and go home. Shared ownership of a new dam at Ragged MT. where the County is an equal partner [as far as they're concerned, the more it costs, the better! because the City would NEED them to do it! If Charlottesville sucked it up and said "ok, we'll build a new dam, but we're paying for it ourselves and we'll own it outright" the County would suddenly be singing a different tune] would eliminate the gun-to-the-head threat to future county development that the Board of Supervisors sees now.
btw, why was the Luck Stone quarry in Shadwell taken off the table as a future water storage location, again?

For several years I have attended RWSA and RSWA meetings. When you give agencies, that have no accountability to the voters, unlimited control over your money, there is bound to be problems. Recently the structure was changed to allow one elected official on each board, but they are totally outnumbered by those whose jobs depend on increasing budgets for their agency, and the desire for ever larger infrastructure projects to accomplish this.

I have come to the conclusion that this arrangement needs to be reworked, to better represent the interests of the ratepayers, and not those of special interests groups, which now control the power on these boards.

This is a long term solution, but one that can be speeded along by electing public officals willing to re-negotiate the contracts of these agencies to produce more fiscal responsibilty to the ratepayers.

The article states that Councilor Szakos will "let the new dam happen" and that Councilor Edwards will vote with Mayor Norris.

Who is the source here? Has either Szakos or Edwards made her views public?

If the point of the article is that Council Huja is the swing vote, it seems very relevant whether Szakos and/or Edwards has actually gone on-record or whether these are just rumors.

@Yes: From your linked article:

"threw in the towel January 20 as it accepted a $600,000 settlement from the citizen, Peter Van der Linde"

If the lawsuit was a joke, $600,000 is one heck of a punchline!

The hook huffed and puffed really, really hard on that one but Van Der Linde was the guy with his wallet on the line. He obviously did NOT think the lawsuit was a joke. The notion that it was the RWSA that "threw in the towel" is a case of "who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Accepting a settlement is not "throwing in the towel". Any way you slice it, Van Der Linde did not want to be out that $600,000. It was he that threw in the towel.

The hook wrote so many articles about that story that when their guy actually had to pay up, they HAD to make it look like a victory. Again, this speaks to the credibility of this publication.

But thanks for linking to a similarly biased and misleading article. Hawes Spencer would do well to avoid the attempts at spin, or at least learn to be much more subtle.

I'm gonna buy me a well drillin rig and move to albemarle county, we gonna make a killin

Clearly Mr. Miller is going to dismiss dredging estimates since he wants to sell dredging equipment - not services. Just like Mr. Spencer wants to sell adds. The fact is that the $223 million is for 50 years of dredging while the recent estimate, $40 million, is for one-time dredging. Not at all comparable - nor is Mr. Miller's proposal since he doesn't say anything about how much it costs to dispose of the non-sellable material which is the vast majority of the dredge spoil. Drawing these comparisons of cost is like asking the landlord how much she charges for rent and then signing a lease for $500 only to later find out that it's $500 per month for the next 50 years! We could be the sudden fools who have to pay hundreds of millions for dredging over 50 years and still not have enough water. And who bears the greatest burden? Our city's poor people. After all, dredging all by itself will cost much more than the entire approved water plan. Check out the facts at Charlottesville Tomorrow's web site, a much more unbiased reporting of the issues.

Charlottesville Tomorrow is controlled by the Nature Conservancy. The NC takes credit for the dam/pipeline plan and has a huge investment in making sure it succeeds. The reporting on this issue by CT and for the Daily Progress is a clear lobbying campaign to defeat the dredging alternative by scaring the public about the cost, now that they can no longer spread fear about its feasibility, and push the Nature Conservance dam and uphill pipeline plan, as the most cost effective alternative. The Nature Conservancy views this as a conservation model for their streamflow agenda and wants to hold up our community as one, that spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make streamflow in the Moorman's River the top priority of our future water supply plan.

Who Cares is woefully uninformed about dredging- it's cost and the marketablitity of the dredged material. In fact, if the reservoir is dredged in small amounts, as proposed by Mr. Miller, it very well could be free to dredge, once the material is sold.

Who Cares is probably a lobbyist for the dam/pipeline plan spreading misinformation to scare the public and prevent them from proceeding with sustaining and restoring our most valuable reservoir the South Fork Rivanna.

Bill Crutchfield, arguably one of the most successful businessmen in our area, said it all in a letter to the Hook:

What is the professional qualification of the Nature Conservancy for developing this plan? Apparently, an official with the Nature Conservancy devised it. According to its website, the Nature Conservancy’s mission is ââ?¬Å?to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.” The Nature Conservancy performs this mission admirably. However, designing municipal water systems is not one of their core competencies. Prudent businesspeople would not have based a decision on a plan developed by an organization that did not have the appropriate expertise and experience.

Did the Nature Conservancy understand the full environmental impact of their plan? It has been reported that their plan calls for clear cutting 54,000 trees over 180 acres. Apparently, the Sierra Club now understands the plan’s impact and is withdrawing its endorsement of it. Prudent businesspeople would have understood all aspects of a plan before adopting it.

How much money will local water customers pay and how large is the carbon footprint for the incremental electricity production? Little has been said about the energy needed to pump enormous quantities of water through a 9.5 mile pipeline and then up a small mountain. Prudent businesspeople would factor the financial and environmental costs of a plan that requires the use of so much electrical energy."

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2008/05/14/crutchfield-im-no-d...

The Piedmont Unit of the Sierra Club has come out against the dam/pipeline plan because it believes the environmental and financial costs of the dam/uphill pipeline plan are unsustainable.

Sad, for the 12 million that RWSA has spent trying ( only virtual) to build a dam, the Reservoir could be dredged by now.

When will someone on City Council wise up to the game being played with our money ?

I added what might be salient information about Dave Norris' latest pronouncement and data from the local market for topsoil. This suggests that dredging, already well-known as the only water source with its own revenue source, might be free or--- egads--- revenue-positive. --hawes spencer

Look read the article above --dredging can make money, who wouldn't do this ? Communities all over the US are doing this and selling the dredged material.

" Miller also told the gathering that selling off the dirt and sand could bring revenue to further reduce the cost. Clayton & Sons, the venerable topsoil and mulch operation near the Mechums River near Crozet retails the stuff for $330 for a six cubic yard load. Even if the wholesale price is half that, simple math suggests that topsoil� dredged for $10 per yard� might sell for over $25 per yard."

Many communitites are under water restrictions. In Orange, the DEQ has ordered water restrictions. Our Water Authority Director, Mr. Frederick has stated, using their computer model, no such restrictions are needed here. But, why- why- why wouldn't he and other community leaders call for voluntary conservation ? We are lucky to have such a large supply, but during a declared drought wouldn't they at least promote conservation ?

I am wondering if the water authority, that depends on selling water for revenue to keep their operation running, is seeing a drop in the money they need to just stay afloat, without raising water rates. If they call for voluntary conservation, they sell less water. If they call for a rate increase at this time to cover the drop in revenue, that would hamper their argument that their new hundred fifty million dam and pipeline can be built without increasing rates.

Who would believe that they wouldn't increase rates for City residents if they build all this new infrastructure ? Who believes that our water use will not keep dropping. I live in the City and have 2 old toilets, that will soon be replaced with low flow. How many others still have old toilets, shower heads, and faucets ?

If we don't use the water they store, then the cost the new infrastructure and interest on the debt will force them to charge their customers more in higher water bills.

Any math majors among our elected officals ? Where are the fiscal conservatives when we need them ?--looks like Mayor Norris will get that prize.

Excellent plan Mayor Norris. On this issue you have been a champion for the people of our community !

So where do the spoils of a dredging operation go? Will it go to line the pocket of the dredging operator further or will it go rightfully for the use of the community and citizens for projects and parks? Something tells me the operator and how closely tied is the city council to this company. A new business could be created here to do the job locally and be ongoing as needed to supply the spoils for landscaping etc... And people here need to further the water conservation ie composting toilets and gray water systems, and lose the idea of damaging beautiful environs with a heightened dam.

Read the permit support document for the RWSA plan at #2 on the RWSA web-site, as I just did. Then look at what we know now and you'll see a lawsuit in the making, if they try to pass the current dam/pipeline plan based on this document. Read the fine print: new information makes this permit null and void. Many lawyers would love this case.

http://search.freefind.com/find.html?oq=permit+for+communtiy+water+suppl...

And if that journalist’s paper ââ?¬Å?reported” for however long and with just as much depth that the RWSA was pursuing a baseless lawsuit against a private interest such as Van Der Linde, and then that lawsuit results in a $900,000 settlement, my BS antennae is beeping really, really hard.
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Wasn't only $600,000 from Van Der Linde and the other $300,000 from RSWA's partner BFI?

And wasn't RSWA's case pretty much a joke?

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/20/freed-van-der-linde...

Heh. Little Shop of Horrors headline. Good one, Hawes.

I have always liked Mr. Huja. But, this is definitely the most important spending decision I have seen since I moved here 30 years ago and I will not allow anyone in my family to vote for him if he supports the community water plan.

I hope he takes all the time we need to find out the truth and see whether we really need all this infrastructure. For cripes sake, we have at least 30 years to find out. Why cave to county pressure and make a bad decision now?

We all have to take the "city pledge" and vote out everyone who goes along with this craziness!

I too voted for Mr. Huja, but I agree, I'll never vote for him or any other official that caves into the county on this one. How much misinformation do they need to hear from the county controlled water board before they say enough, and just take over. Ironically, it would be the best decision for county ratepayer as well, who are being ignored by their own officials. What's up with that ?

Dredge, baby ,dredge!
However, we need to do a lot more in the area of water conservation. Despite this drought(which should have brought about water restrictions weeks ago) I see people washing down parking lots and watering lawns(and sidewalks). We waste far too much water doing stuff like this, so much of it unnecessary drought or no drought.
The only valid reason for washing down a parking lot would be in the case of a gas spill.
In the future I don't want to not have water to shower or flush my toilet because some idiots have squandered thousands of gallons on their acres of stupid lawn!