Water Authority not ready for pipeline talk
Despite several recent calls to fully estimate all costs in its now-struggling Community Water Supply Project and despite a tantalizing hint from the chair last month, the board of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority chose at its Monday, October 27 meeting to skip any discussion of the proposed 9.5-mile pipeline, which appears essential to making the Project work.
"You have new information now," longtime Authority critic Betty Mooney told the board. "This is a turning point."
She read names and quotations from several elected officials, including Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker and Charlottesville mayor Dave Norris, along with Norris' fellow City Councilors Satyendra Huja and Julian Taliaferro–- all of whom have in recent weeks begun ramping up the volume of their concerns with the Project.
Already under fire for requiring a 180-acre clear-cut of mature forest in a sensitive natural area, the Project nearly imploded in August after officials discovered that its dam would cost, not $37 million as long predicted, but a sum that could approach or even exceed $100 million. The dam was only supposed to account for 26 percent of the overall cost.
"Things have changed," said Councilor Huja at a recent meeting. "We need to have further review of the plan."
On Monday, the board heard from Authority director Tom Frederick who said that his staff were in the final stages of preparing a Request for Proposals to create an engineering review board to advise on ways of shrinking the dam's cost.
Supporters of an alternate plan were buoyed a month ago when even Authority board chair Mike Gaffney suggested that Monday's meeting might be the one to start exploring the costs of the pipeline, which Authority-hired experts contend is essential for filling the planned reservoir.
“I would rather discuss that at the next meeting,” said Gaffney on September 22. Monday, however, there was no such discussion.
Asked afterwards why not, Gaffney replied, "There wasn't anything on the agenda, so I guess there wasn't anything to discuss."
–last updated 9:34am, October 28