Dollar short: Dredging study advances... on City tab

news-water-jumborwsa-medCitizen Richard Lloyd urges a newly-expanded RWSA board to dredge its main reservoir.

Nearly a year after it first tried to obtain the services of consultants to find out how helpful dredging might be, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority unanimously voted Monday, May 18, to seek proposals from qualified dredging consultants. Although water-users in both Albemarle and Charlottesville could benefit from what dredge fans see as low-cost water supply, in a compromise demanded by the County, the City will bear most of the cost.

Later on Monday, in a 4-1 vote, City Council agreed to fund the cost of five of the eight tasks in the anticipated study, whose total price is expected to be approximately $275,000. The compromise was submitted by City Manager Gary O'Connell based on a recent City Council discussion.

"We come with Council's blessing and approvals," said O'Connell, joined Monday at the first Rivanna board to include an Albemarle Supervisor and one of his own bosses, City Councilor Holly Edwards, who marveled at the breadth of the draft Request for Proposals, which demands a lake-bottom survey, analysis of dumping sites, advice on preventing resiltation, and even expertise on regulatory affairs.

"It's almost like we're handing Kryptonite to Superman," she remarked, "because this is a lot of work."

For several citizens, including the half dozen who coalesced under the moniker Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan and spoke to the now seven-member Rivanna board, Monday was a day for cautious rejoicing.

"This could end up saving our community $100 million," said Betty Mooney, a former Charlottesville Planning Commissioner whose impassioned pleas to reexamine dredging have been at the heart of an at times bitter year-and-half debate.

Even John Martin, a board member of the County water-distribution entity, who has been claiming that dredging the existing reservoir could unravel a carefully constructed plan to guarantee minimum water flows in the Moormans River, heralded the compromise. He asserted after the board meeting that the dredging study ends the divisiveness–- and won't change the so-called 50-year water plan.

Many hope he's wrong about that.

Blasted by such critics as electronics magnate Bill Crutchfield, the local chapter of the Sierra Club, and an array of petition-gathering neighborhoods who fear its potential to cost over $200 million, the official plan has provoked numerous controversies. Besides its cost, questionable aspects include felling 180 acres of mature forest, putting a reservoir under Interstate 64, depending on a new pipeline, and presuming skyrocketing demand in the face of falling water use.

All the while, the community had been told by one engineering firm (which stood to benefit from a $3.1 million contract to design a dam) that dredging was too expensive. Private companies later began clamoring to dredge for a fraction of the firm's estimates.

O'Connell came under fire from three former City Councilors for letting all this happen. The current City Council never publicly upbraided him, but it did launch the drive to seat one of its own alongside him.

Asked after the meeting how he felt about the board's expansion, O'Connell–- who formerly urged "full steam ahead" on the reservoir/pipeline plan–- said he welcomes City Council's effort to make a "better connection."

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ââ?¬Å?It’s almost like we’re handing Kryptonite to Superman,” she remarked, ââ?¬Å?because this is a lot of work.”

This is our city council? And this is the one they sent to the RWSA board? No wonder O'Connell is able to take control.

I agree with Mr. Taliaferro that it is distressing that the County will not join with the City to gain better cost information than the faulty information we currently have about dredging. How can this be a responsible action on their part? The Ciy agreed to the $264,000 expense of correcting the faulty estimate of the Ragged Mt. Dam and going forward with a study of that option. Why now would the County turn their backs on the City ? I suggest that if the dam consultants come back wanting even more money for further study the City should hand the bill to the County.

What the hay!! How can it cost $275,000 to do a study on dredging?
Seems to me that you can use sonar to get the reservoir's current geometry. Which is efficient and low cost. I'm sure there must be some data available on the reservoir's initial geometry. The difference will be how much sediment and debris has accumulated. Which amounts to how much to dredge and it's cost.

They really need also fire that "engineering firm" who lied about the cost of dredging.

As a city resident, I'd like councilors and candidates for council to know that there are many city residents that support the current water supply plan. It really sounds as if those running for council are listening to a small group of activists. The Nature Conservancy, and many other area residents were (and still are) on the right track with the approved/adopted water supply plan.

Where are all those supporters --never see them speaking up for it. 6 City neighborhoods, over 400 petition signers and hundreds of people that responded to the Dredging Task Force Survey don't agree with you --as well as the Sierra Club and Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Board
and I'd check with the Councilors if I were you and ask them how many people they've heard from that support going forward with this $200 million dollar concept before getting the dredging cost info. and pipeline costs. Remember this so called plan isn't just the cost of the dam but a non-existent pipeline as well, that the dam depends on.

Quite a plan

And get to know what your investment is. Get out on the Reservoir yourself and see all the silt coming into it. We need a permanent maintenance plan to keep the silt out and dredge on a regular basis. Rivanna has been negligent in not doing this. And then hike Ragged Mt. and ask yourself is it sustainable to kill 54,000 trees in this beautiful park 2 miles from town when we could and should dredge first. Don't let anyone tell you dredging wouldn't be enough water. They don't know and it's a scare tactic. As Duane Snow says get the facts first and bring in the dredging experts. We have never done this and it's way past time.

take the time to hike this wonderful wilderness natural area
directions at this link:

What is the Service Authority thinking dredging will save their customers millions of dollars of debt and prevent double digit rate increases forever. Why are people who don't even pay water and sewer rates on this board and making others pay for their own agendas?

Sure hope Holly Edwards has what it takes to stand up to Sally --I can hear Sally now, over my dead body will they dredge this Reservoir, and that from one who used to say why not dredge ?
Anyone understand this flip-flop ?

It is up to the city to force the County's hand, but they rarely do on council. Council as a group often appears gutless, impressionable, and weak. They let the county rule in the parkway issue and this situation is no different. Time to crack the whip! The county would bend if they were given a reason to do so. We need new blood and someone with firm resolve to stand up for the best interests of the city. Bob Fenwick is the man to finally make the county blink. He will demand results, and the city will reap the benifits.

Giant Eagle, Your arguments don't hold water????

Giant Eagle, there isn't an approved/adopted water supply plan.

I would like to see a list of people in the city who think it's a good idea to spend millions of dollars on a dam without exploring alternatives first, particularly when there isn't even a right of way available for the pipeline it would take to supply it.

the reservoir and pipeline plan is so expensive and obviously impractical that i have to wonder who's palms are being greased. dredging makes sense - reduce, reuse, recycle! this is what happens when amateurs and dilettantes make big civil works decisions: the inmates rum the asylum and the consultants and contractors get rich on the public dime.