Dredge the res? City Councilors say it's about time
Nine months after the City demanded as much, a giant March 3 meeting, bringing together both top government bodies and both waterworks boards, 22 people in all, inched closer to getting an actual dredging study–- but not without a fight.
"A dredging study for water supply only is an absolute waste of the rate-payers' money," said Don Wagner, the chair the Albemarle County Service Authority, the entity that pipes water to homes and businesses in the urban part of the County.
However, both the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously a few moments earlier to reopen the Request for Proposals, or RFP, that the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority had been preparing last June until they were diverted by this same quadrumvirate.
The four boards–- three of them dominated by County interests–- had put together a committee to study dredging, and the chair of that committee, Albemarle Supervisor Sally Thomas, gave that report Tuesday, which called for dredging only for narrow purposes, such as recreation.
"I don't think water users should pay for rowing," responded City Councilor David Brown. "I don't think water users should pay for fishing."
"This is not a discussion of the water supply plan," said a perturbed Thomas.
Despite her plea and those of Service Authority board member Elizabeth Palmer, all five City Councilors expressed interest in dredging for water supply, something that was dismissed several years ago when an engineering firm suggested it might cost over $223 million.
"Dredging was not taken off the table because of its cost," Palmer told the group. "It was taken off the table because it didn't supply us what we needed."
Charlottesville Mayor/Councilor Dave Norris, however, has become something of a champion for dredging, something he sees as combining with conservation, to remedy some of the ills of the official water plan which would destroy a natural area, cost approximately $200 million, and–- critics allege–- cause water rates to skyrocket.
Lucky for Norris, the City owns the land in the natural area targeted for a new reservoir that's the centerpiece of the official plan; so, theoretically, Charlottesville can block the official plan.
"The City holds all the cards," Norris said, "and they know that."
The boards heard Tuesday from Rivanna Authority director Tom Frederick that the state will eventually require a bathymetric, or reservoir bottom, survey and that such survey constitutes about half the estimated $275,000 cost of a thorough dredging study.
"It's going to happen very soon," said Norris. "There's five people in agreement."