Pumped up: County water guru says numbers inflated

Despite university and other local growth, demand fell after the 2002 drought and never fully rebounded.
DATA: RIVANNA WATER & SEWER AUTHORITY

By issuing a letter in which he blasts the very foundation of the community's controversial 50-year water supply project, Albemarle County's top water manager, Greg Harper, has committed such apostasy that he has found himself getting scrutinized by top local government leaders.

"Who is this County staff person giving this opinion?" asks incredulous Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority board member Gary O'Connell in a late-May email [pdf] to Harper's boss. (Until he changed course last month and began pressing for harder numbers on the total cost of a planned dam/pipeline system, O'Connell, who is also the Charlottesville City manager, was widely considered one of the water plan's biggest backers.)

"Is it true," O'Connell continued in the email to Albemarle County Administrator Bob Tucker, "one of the county staff is challenging the demand numbers?"

Indeed it is true.

The long-touted claim by the Pennsylvania-based engineering firm plotting Charlottesville water strategy is that local demand 50 years from now will be 18.7 million gallons per day, or 18.7 MGD. However, Harper believes a more accurate estimate of community need is closer to just 14.7 MGD. And there's a lot riding on who's right.

Greg Harper: "We should be willing to take on a greater commitment to using water economically and insist on a more realistic future water demand target."
PHOTO BY CHARLOTTESVILLE TOMORROW

If Harper–- who serves as Albemarle's Water Resources Manager–- is correct, then just a few tweaks to the existing system can see the community through any known drought. If Harper's wrong, however, then the 50-year water plan, which has come under intense controversy this year, might begin to enjoy public support beyond the halls of power.

After City Council put a brake on the plan November 3, three County supervisors voiced their support (with one even blasting critics as "frustrated" obstructionists), and an emergency meeting of all four local water boards was to be convened Tuesday, November 25, after the Hook deadline.

Controversy has erupted this year over many aspects of the plan, including its need to clear-cut over 180 acres of mature forest and inundate several streams for a new lake hugging Interstate 64. Also, the official plan relies on a 9.5-mile uphill pipeline, which even backers admit is only a concept. And the cost could top $200 million.

Fortunately, the local water system already has capacity of 16 MGD. However, concern that the existing system is too dependent on the potentially fragile headwaters of the Moorman's River, the mountain waterway feeding the existing Sugar Hollow Reservoir, has led the community to count current capacity at just 12.8 MGD.

By relying mostly on dredging the existing Rivanna Reservoir, a group called the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply has submitted an alternative plan to get the capacity up to 17.3 MGD. But it has not been easy getting Albemarle County officials to consider their alternative or to seriously study the Harper memo.

"I've looked at it," said County Administrator and Rivanna Authority board member Bob Tucker, when approached at the close of the July 28 Authority board meeeting.

"This was his opinion," Tucker continued. "Our direction from City Council and the Board of Supervisors is to move forward."

Tucker referred all specific questions on Harper's memo to Tom Frederick, the Authority's director. Frederick, however, declined to address it beyond reiterating his support for the Pennsylvania firm's figures.

"I do not think we have inflated anything," said Frederick. "I think we present our arguments effectively."

Back in May, at a City Council work session, engineer Aaron Keno of the Pennsylvania firm, Gannett Fleming, which Frederick and the Authority had already rewarded with about $5 million in billings, gave that evening's Powerpoint presentation for another $12,000 fee.

Former City Councilor Kevin Lynch, now a member of the all-volunteer Citizens group, however, brought up the fact that local water use has actually shown a declining trend for about a decade. Lynch expressed particular frustration that Keno's claim of 18.7 MGD remains the one that local officials believe– despite the evidence that water use isn't rising. It's falling.

In 1999 and 2000, demand averaged 11.32 MGD. In 2006 and 2007, the last two complete years, demand had fallen to an average of just 10.12 MGD, a drop– despite a growing university and total metro population– of over 10 percent.

“How many years of conservation,” Lynch asked that night, “do we need to see before we can call that a trend?”

That's one of the points Harper hits in his memo in which he lays out the "soft path" of conservation–- in contrast with what he calls a "hard path" of new construction.

"It seems that the focus of the planning process has been on finding and developing yet another water supply through expanding our large, centralized infrastructure," which often concludes, "with new engineering monuments of concrete and steel," Harper notes.

"The Gannett Fleming analysis assumes that we could not–- or would not want to be bothered to–- reduce our water use during the next extreme drought."

But that worries Albemarle Supervisor Sally Thomas, a long-time defender of the official plan, who claims Harper's paper would lead the community into the kind of draconian 2002 drought measures that still cause some folks to shudder.

"Remember cellophane-wrapped sinks in public places?" asks Thomas, noting that some businesses were seriously impacted. And then there was the unsavory mantra: "If it's yellow, let it mellow," or as Thomas puts it, "Don't flush for number one."

Thomas claims that only the threat of "no water by Christmas" led citizens to find ways to significantly curtail water use.

"A couple of your points do not accurately reflect my assumptions," Harper replied to Thomas, though he declined to be interviewed or photographed for the Hook.

"Generally what I'm suggesting," Harper told Thomas, "is a base reduction of 15 percent in per capita use over 50 years through passive and active water conservation and, during droughts, a further reduction down to normal, winter-time levels."

Harper's memo suggests that citizens–- who, with some bold governmental prodding, chopped their demand 40 percent from 12.23 to 7.28 MGD during fall 2002–- can undertake less draconian measures such as pulling back on drought-time yard-watering to avoid buying a new reservoir.

It turns out that there is already a proving ground for water conservation: UVA. With a giant voter-approved bond issue and a growth-oriented board, the University of Virginia has dotted the town with new buildings over the past decade. So it might seem like UVA water use has risen.

Yet despite an uptick in its 2007 vs. 2006 water use and its growth in students, hospital patients, and footprint, the university's total water usage remains significantly lower– 33 percent less in 2007 than it was in 1997.

If UVA's sizeable water conservation efforts have reached a plateau, City Councilor David Brown would seem to believe it. In an email discovered in a recent Freedom of Information Act request, this dam plan backer theorizes that the community may have already picked the "low-hanging fruit."

But Roger Voisinet disagrees. As a real estate agent, Voisinet peeks inside hundreds of houses every year, and he claims that most have not been equipped to save water.

"Most of the newer homes have low-flow shower heads and certainly water-saving toilets," says Voisinet, "but I am guessing only five to fifteen percent of existing homes may have done this."

Currently, both local water sellers, the City of Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority, offer customers a rebate of $100 for each low-flow toilet installed in an existing dwelling. And Voisinet would like to see that program ramped up and to start hearing officials talking more about conservation than putting money into new storage facilities. He's aghast that recent retreats in usage have punished customers with year-after-year double-digit rate increases.

"If the utility companies want their customers to waste scarce resources and the governing bodies encourage this," says Voisinet, "then there is little hope but to pay more and more."

33 comments

i manage to get by just fine not flushing every time i pee. why would anyone think that's such a huge deal? just think how much water we could save if everyone else was a bit more sensible about simple things like that every day rather than just in times of "crisis." people all over the world manage to live decent meaningful lives while using only a fraction of the resources that we do.

Me too !

Jeff Werner, from the Piedmont Environmental Council sent out a letter in 2005 from a group called Drink Local Water. This is from that letter and raises further doubts that the consultants demand assumptions are accurate. We need more accurate population data to qualify for a State Approved Water Plan ( which we do not have). The elected offcials should insist we have this information and all the other information in the City Resolution before proceeding with spending over $200 million on NEW infrastructure

If you are aCity resident support the effort our officials are making to get detailed costs BEFORE building a NEW dam.
E-mail them at

council@charlottesville.org

and attend today's meeting at 2pm at the City Space on the Downtown Mall to support their efforts !

this is from the Drink Local Water letter:

"Two sources suggest as unrealistic the (May 2004) Gannett Fleming projected 2025 demand for the Urban Service Area. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the projected 2030 combined population for Charlottesville and Albemarle is 157,000. (GF cites the use of VEC projections in developing their demand forecasts.) According to NPA Data Services, in a 2004 estimate completed for VDOT's VTrans 2025 plan, the projected 2025 combined population for Charlottesville and Albemarle is 158,730. If the latter, higher estimate is assumed, a conservative 2025 population of Urban Service Area can be estimated by deducting the current population of Scottsville, Crozet and the Rural Area-approximately 48,000 people. This suggests a maximum population of 110,730 in the Urban Service Area for 2025. Gannett Fleming projects a population of 113,737. In other words, even with NO additional growth in Crozet, Scottsville and the County's Rural Area, employing a population projection that exceeds VEC estimates, the GF conclusions suggest an exaggerated analysis. If, by 2025, we conservatively assume Crozet's population will only increase from 3,000 to 6,000, Scottsville will remain unchanged and the Rural Area will gain approximately 11,000 new residents; approximately 14,000 new residents that will reside outside of the Urban Service Area. This suggests that in 2025, approximately 62,000 County residents will NOT reside in the Urban Service Area. The result is a conservative projection of approximately 96,730 people in the Urban Service Area. At 93 gallons per day per capita, 17,000 people equates to approximately 1.5 mgd."

RWSA memo, 3/2/2005, Response to Water Supply Inquiries, page 5, answer to question 22.

I'm very concerned today's meeting may be problematic. As I read the report (today's Progress), it appears to me the county seeks to pressure city council members to lean their way. The sad reality, O'Connell and council have had a history of caving in to county wishes. It is high time the city fathers firmly hold their own ground. There is no need to give in today. Council and O'Connell should be advocating for city residents for this issue and the Parkway situation. I'm hoping we don't see a scene today wherein city officials appear as wimps. It is time for council to show some backbone.

I think Sally Thomas and several others now appear desperate. The ball is definitely not in their court anymore, as far as the public is concerned. The Hook has discovered and printed information confirming longstanding and glaring inaccuracy. The same questions remain unanswered, so why would the city change a position in any way?

John Martin, a board member of the Alb. Service Authority and member of the Friends of the Moorman's, gave the following comment written up in the 2002 Oct. 28th RWSA board minutes:

... some people might think that everything possible should be done to avoid periods of water conservation and water restrictions. Mr. Martin commented that he felt it could not be done as it would be very expensive to build such a system.

Does anyone know how today's meeting, BOS and Council went?

When is Sally Thomas up for re-election?

If Greg Harper is right, then dredging gives us the 50 years of water we need.

Thank you to all the citizens that have realized dredging should come first to expand our water supply, and have contacted your local officials to say so!

Dredging is most likely, given the information to date, the most affordable, least environmentally damaging option of all. Let's just hope the elected officials will take Mr. Harper ideas seriously. They could save a pristine wildlife area at Ragged Mt., hundreds of millions of dollars, and a beautiful mature forest of over 50,000 trees. Besides, finally maintaining our major water supply; South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

Thank you Mr. Harper

Based on the joint meeting between the City and County held today, which I attended, it sure didn't sound like dredging alone would provide enough water to meet demand.

Mr.Harper is an expert in this field. The elected and appointed officials at todays meeting, who were speaking, are not. Mr. Harper's ideas deserve careful consideration by our officials !

Sorry, Greg Harper may know a little bit about streams and water runoff, but he is *not* a water supply expert by any stretch of the imagination. That is a different skill set entirely. Yes if we all want to live under permanent drought restrictions as he is suggesting then we don't need as much water. But no one wants to live that way.

There have been a lot of experts, with many more credentials than Mr. Harper, involved in the development of the current plan, and it sure sounded today like most of the elected officials had thoroughly reviewed the studies that have contributed to the plan.

Whether or not older homes have low-flow toilets (etc.) right *now* doesn't much matter. In the 50 years ahead, I think it's fair to assume that most plumbing fixtures will age out, being replaced by modern, water-saving versions.

The BOS recently approved seveval new projects including Biscuit Run.
"HELLO", a call for more water!
The BOS is responsible for too much here.

The history of this project is dominated by a continuing stream of phony or inaccurate numbers ... and plans that are "conceptual" (RWSA's own words, not mine) when real engineering is required.

To make an investment of this size, it is criminal to go 'full-speed ahead' given this track record, especially because there is no compelling need to do so! We have no emergency that is forcing us to 'roll the dice.' There is no drought today - and, even if we were in a drought, this 10 year project could do nothing to help us in the short run. During the last drought, most people forget that we still had more than 50% of our water supply available at the lowest point.

This project was sold on a projected future demand that even the county's own senior water resource manager now confirms is wrong. If you disagree with him and feel he is not competent to do his job, fine - start a move to fire him but, while you're at it, be consistent and get rid of all the other RWSA and county guys who have bollixed up this entire project and misrepresented all kinds of data and information along the way.

My bet, though, is that Greg Harper is one of the most competent and honest guys in the entire water supply administration - at the county, the city, AND the RWSA. It takes real guts and integrity to take a stand and talk statistics when everyone else is 'wrapped in the hydrilla' (ask Sally Thomas).

I think we need to listen to him and EVALUATE HIS ARGUMENTS, rather than throw flames such as "Yes if we all want to live under permanent drought restrictions as he is suggesting then we don’t need as much water. But no one wants to live that way." Obviously, Citizen X has reached conclusions before looking at the data -- just like too many other people involved in this project.

Here's the bottom line:

1) this project was promised at $142 million,
2) it is now $200+ million due to the "new" dam numbers (that actually leave out key parts of the Ragged Mountain project) ... 3) I'm betting on $275+ million if we actually build the thing and account for ALL the parts, rather than hide many in other budgets.

$200+ million may be chickenfeed in Washington, but it is a LOT of money by local standards.

We shouldn't be making decisions and going forward without having done a thorough study that:
1) defines the REAL problem;
2) identifies all alternatives and elements;
3) has accurate costs and benefits for each alternative/element.

Clearly, Greg Harper currently has a key position in this area and access to a lot of data and knowledge. He also seems to have integrity. I vote that we listen to him and tell the political powers that any attempt to muzzle him will be met with a strong response.

You missed a point on your bottom line:

3) Dredging alone doesn't solve our future water supply needs (as Mr. Frederick stated yesterday).

Sure, alternatives need to be explored, but the notion that dredging is THE answer to the water supply issue, is simply not true. It may be a component of it, but there are many other moving parts that need to be explored.

I would like to thank our elected officials, but especially Mr. Frederick for their hard work on this complicated issue.

Sam-

I assume you were responding to my posting. I just re-read my post and don't see that I ever said dredging alone solved our future water supply problems - in fact, for over a year I've been trying to get good data to figure that out. :-)

The key is that NONE of us know -- our 'leaders' have refused to get the information that will fully define the problem ... and quantify (in mgd and dollars) what each element (including dredging) might provide.

*******************

Let's forget about dredging and $200+ million pipe dreams for a moment and talk about demand - the subject of Greg Harper's analysis.

First, it really is clear that the Gannett Fleming / RWSA demand figures were rigged. Even 3 years after the end of the drought, actual demand was dramatically below RWSA's prediction ... even though UVA had added many square feet and a bunch of new students. The key is that UVA also pulled out all the old-style 5-gallon/flush toilets and replaced a whole lot of other antiquated equipment with more modern, water-saving devices.

So, one key observation I can make is that the demand projections do not HAVE to be based upon pre-2001 infrastructure and water usage - there are alternate options readily available to us that could really impact future demand A LOT ... maybe even enough to allow dredging to meet all of our future needs?!

Here is some interesting and very simple-to-understand information from a poster on the wall at VAMAC, the local plumbing supply dealer (in the back of old Comdial plant):

FAST FACTS ABOUT WATER CONSUMPTION

Household Usage:

HOUSEHOLD SIZE WATER USAGE
Couple Up to 3,000 gallons
Small Family 3,001-6,000 gallons
Large Family Over 6,000 gallons

Toilet Use:
Old Style Toilet 3.5 gallons/flush
New Style Toilet 1.6 gallons/flush -54% decrease
New Eco-Friendly Toilet 0.9 ââ?¬â?? 1.28 gallons/flush -63 to -74% decrease

Shower Head Use:
Average Shower Head 2.5 gallons/minute
New Style Shower Head 1.75 gallons/minute -30% decrease

Lavatory Faucet Use:
Average faucet 2.2 gallons/minute
Change the aerator 1.5 gallons/minute -32% decrease

The average American flushes 5 times a day at home. Assuming an average household of 3.2 people over the course of 365 days, this is how much water you can save:

Currently-Installed Toilet Yearly Usage Yearly Savings
5.5 gallons/flush 32,120 24,665
3.5 gallons/flush 20,440 12,965
1.6 gallons/flush 9,344 1,869
If you install a 1.28 gallons/flush toilet, you’ll only be using 7,475 gallons yearly.

CHECK OUT HOW MUCH YOU’LL BE SAVING!!!
Old Toilet to New Toilet Water Cost Savings Sewage Cost Savings
5.5 ââ?¬â?? to ââ?¬â?? 1.28 $ 95.21 $ 172.66
3.5 ââ?¬â??to ââ?¬â?? 1.28 $ 50.05 $ 90.76
1.6 ââ?¬â?? to ââ?¬â?? 1.28 $ 7.21 $ 13.08

[These figures are based on the 2008 rates Albemarle County changes per thousand gallons of incoming and outgoing water, for a couple (2 people) in one household.]

I won't go into a full-bore mathematical analysis and projection, but it sure looks to me that continuing to do what UVA did could dramatically drop future water demand ... without causing any inconvenience to area residents. In fact, it could save them a LOT of money ... especially if we don't have to spend $200+ million on the RWSA 'plan.'

**********************

The City already provides cash incentives to retire older toilets:

from: http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=679
"The City of Charlottesville wants to help you save on your water bill and to conserve water by offering a rebate of $100* towards the installation and cost of a (LF) toilet. You must be replacing an older toilet that is not low flow with a new low flow 1.6 gallon flush toilet. The cost for a new toilet varies between $60 and $300 depending on your preference. An easy way to identify a qualifying toilet is to look for the WaterSense Label. These toilets have met conservation and performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency."

We could expand that and even create a full-employment-for-plumbers program wherein the RWSA pays completely for installation of new water-saving devices. IT MIGHT be cheaper and less environmentally damaging than clearcutting 50,000 trees and having to do tons of remediation.

Finally, at a recent public hearing, RWSA noted that 19% of all the water we put through our distribution pipes is lost to leaks (their goal is to get it down to 11%). So, fixing the distribution leaks, alone, could reduce our water needs by 8%.

Again, until we do the hydro studies on the Rivanna Reservoir and also revisit the highly suspect dam/pipeline/demand analyses, we really don't know.

But, we do know that this project has been rife with errors, misleading information, doctored data, and conclusions that were formed without a businesslike analysis.

FINALLY - at a recent county hearing, it was mused whether it makes sense to spend $275,000 on the hydro studies for the Rivanna ... just on the chance it might save $200 million. That alone would be incredibly funny -- if it weren't so tragically stupid.

Only a government employee or a non-profit could possibly think like that. Any business would immediately spend $275k for a definitive engineering study that could save $150-200 million net. Remember, $275k is only 0.1% -- cheap insurance that any responsible businessman would buy in a heartbeat.

I don't quite understand what you mean by saying our leaders "refuse to get the information to define the problem." The result of yesterday's meeting was an agreement to fund the review of several elements of the plan. Right? Or is their agreed upon scope of review not enough?

Did anyone at Tuesdays water summit notice that the supporters of the new dam at RM are trying to scare people into going forward by bringing up the James River Pipeline again---this was what happened last time. The officials never got to vote on dredging because it was taken off the table because of cost and then there were only 2 options for the elected officials to vote on. Since most didn't want to go to the James the only alternative was the dam at RM and pipeline from the South Fork Rivanna.

Don't let fear rule the day this time. Get the dredging surveys and find out the cost for the water supply! And re-do the demand numbers so as not to build new infrastructure when we aren't even maintaining what we have. Mr. Harper is a brave soul and hopefully has set an example in this community for others to follow . His questioning of the consultants assumptions has been sorely lacking on the RWSA board. I still think we need a whole new board.

Wonder what the daily water use of a family in Arizona is versus the water use of a typical Charlottesville family ?

Don't we know what other localities are doing that don't have access to the water we have ?

Why are they thinking of spending over $200 million citizen dollars on new dams and pipelines? Wouldn't it be cheaper and better for the government to give citizens low flow toilets and shower heads and rain barrels and repair the leaky infrastructure?

Shouldn't they be looking for conservation and efficiency savings first before turning to destroying a natural area, killing thousands of trees and wasting the reservoir we have to siltation not to mention the huge water bills to customers?

What are they thinking? Greg Harper shouldn't be punished he should get a genius reward. Where's the MacArthur Foundation--here's a candidate.

Mike Gaffney was on the news...

"We need to bring in more DAM experts....blah blah blah....consultants....blah............to determine the demand supply"

Did anyone else hear that load of BS. I almost crashed my car trying not to laugh at BS he was spewing.

Have these conservation measures been factored into the Gannett Fleming demand analysis for the amount of water we need? What other measures have the city and county taken that would change the consultants assumptions?

reported at channel 29:

Going Green Paying Off in Charlottesville

Posted: Nov 26, 2008 05:27 PM

Charlottesville's investment in going green is paying off. A number of improvements have been made at both city-owned buildings and schools.

Both sets of buildings now have motion sensors controlling the lights as well as sinks and toilets.

Reported by Henry Graff

Tuesday's meeting sounds like it was a success. There is now a consensus to review some of the plan elements. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like they're going to throw the entire plan out, and start over from square one.

My guess, the county and RWSA will ultimately push the city to cave in where they should not. That is unless the residents of C'ville demand more of council. Followers of this issue, really should continue to read between the lines and also read the fine print.

and one of those City blunders would be re-appointing Gaffney for a 4th term

mello girl, you are right on here.

If we want to blame an obstructionist, consider the lowly fresh water snail. It stopped the north Rivana resovoir !

If you haven't read the Harper' memo titled "Are we overestimating our future water needs?---an updated inquiry into data and assumptions." then I hope you will.

To write this was a true act of bravery and the more people read this and pass it on the better our chances of saving hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of trees and improving the health of our entire watershed. Truly a remarkable document. You can click on Harper memo in the above text to read the entire document and supporting data, but here are a few excerpts:

"There has been a renewed debate lately regarding how Charlottesville should best satisfy its future water needs. ...But while almost all the discussion has been about alternatives for developing a greater supply..there has been a conspicuous lack of serious attention to figuring out how to manage the demand side of the water equation. How much more water do we actually need?

Since 2004, all water supply analyses and discussions have been based on a 14 page document entitled "Demand Analysis for the Urban Service Area" prepared by Gannett Fleming. ...the report concluded that the projected water demand is ...18.7 mgd for the year 2055.

Although these numbers are invoked as if they have been exactly computed and not subject to scrutiny, they are simply one firm's educated guesses based on various assumptions....and some of the assumptions in the analysis are dubious and don't seem to reflect this community's priorities

(If you care about your water bill and the environment please read Harper's memo and pass it on ! )

It's pretty clear from last weeks water meeting that Betty, Hawes, and Kevin are off the mark on this one. I'm open to changes to the existing plan, but I remain unconvinced that citizens are being somehow duped by RWSA or any elected officials. The accusations are pretty ridiculous, if not out right character assassination.

Austin-

Glad you're open to changes ... you are a good man!

I think the ââ?¬Å?duping” on this project stems not from malicious intent, but from sloppy engineering and people working from a basis of hope, rather than facts, science and business-like processes.

Clearly, MANY of us ARE tired of hearing how: 1) the RWSA claimed dredging would cost $240 million -- though, it now looks like it will only cost $25-50 million ... 2) pipeline right of way (ROW) would have a minimal cost because it would fit in the 29-bypass -- though, that is clearly now a pipe dream ... 3) demand in 50 years would be much higher than now seems realistic or reasonable ââ?¬â?? though, the county’s own top expert now disagrees strongly with the initial demand projections; and 4) the RMR dam would cost ONLY $30 million ââ?¬â?? though it is now over $100 million, even while omitting key components of that project.

The reality, though, is that all these 'incorrect facts' REALLY DID dupe many people ââ?¬â?? including people who endorsed (and even voted for) the water plan because they rationally concluded that $240 million to dredge was unsupportable. Several of these people actually served on City Council (Kevin Lynch, Francis Fife, and Kendra Hamilton) and formerly headed the RWSA (Rich Collins). To me, the most impressive thing is that they have had the guts to say, ââ?¬Å?we made a mistake and we should fix it rather than rush headstrong in the wrong direction.”

There are too few people in government (and investment banking) these days who have that integrity.

I think these people now feel betrayed -- not so much because of all the bad facts and misrepresentations (the ââ?¬Ë?duping’), but because so many people are yelling ââ?¬Ë?full speed ahead, we don’t have time to get the facts and make any changes.’ Clearly this has frustrated them and I think we are seeing the results in print, on the web, and in city council and BOS meetings.

Also, I personally think that Hawes Spencer has done an incredible public service by publicizing the facts and discrepancies so that we all can recognize what has transpired and exert our responsibilities as voters and citizens to shape our future. Hawes' work may not rise to the level of The Washington Post during Watergate, but it is the kind of professional journalism that a ââ?¬Å?world-class city” like Charlottesville deserves. It sure beats reprinting press releases and megaphoning soundbites.

As to Kevin and Betty, they have lived in Charlottesville for many years and have long track records of public service and involvement ââ?¬â?? they are NOT people looking to tear down local institutions or destroy well-laid plans. They’re just frustrated for all the reasons, above.

Ultimately, though, you are right -- things ARE spinning toward greater friction and personal comments ... from both sides.

We need to get the facts on ALL elements of the current plan ”Š and ALL elements that COULD help us attain our future water needs, whatever they may be. Then, we need to re-look at the entire plan in light of the facts and what we can afford.

Honestly, I think all the people involved in this mess are intrinsically good people. But, there have been enough mistakes made along the way ââ?¬â?? many BIG mistakes ââ?¬â?? that the questions being asked are valid and reasonable.

Let’s just take a breath and work together to better define the problem, get ALL the facts (including dredging facts) and re-think the proposed solution ”Š using facts and common sense rather than hyperbole, threats, and innuendo.

I have enjoyed reading all of the comments and would like to add a few of my own.

I would like to see hard evidence of the James Spiney mussell at Buck Mountain. I don't think this option should have been taken off the table.

In Bermuda they don't have a municipal water system. Every house has a roof designed to catch water and a cistern. While that probably won't work here a lot can be done to manage storm water that would reduce the need for a bigger dam. Likewise grey water management can reduce
demand.

I have heard that we lose 20% of our water through leaks in our water supply pipe system. It is going to get worse and those pipes are going to have to be fixed/replaced. We are going to have to spend hundreds
of millions of dollars to fix these pipes so let's start doing that now rather than the Ragged Mt. plan and get a 20% "increase" in our supply.

I thought Councilor Brown's comments last night were on target. The personal accusations against Mr. Frederick are a stretch at best. Anyone who has seen the flury of emails flying around can read between the lines.