Stacked deck? Dredge foes outnumber fans on force

Exactly six weeks after the waterworks voted to conduct a dredging study, and five weeks after the local water bosses decreed that a new task force should guide the study, the waterworks announced August 4 the appointment of 13 citizens to a new Rivanna Reservoir task force.

Controversy, which had already arisen over word that Albemarle Supervisor Sally Thomas would chair the group, has now expanded to the make-up of the task force which appears stacked with parties who would have let the Rivanna Reservoir wither away from sedimentation.

Calling it a "County-originated ploy," water activist/Soil & Water official Rich Collins claims the committee has been loaded with dredging opponents to deflect the City's resolution to pursue conservation and dredging. "It is so transparently loaded," Collins says, "as to offend even the Ragged Mountain pipeline/dam proponents."

"I don't oppose dredging," says Thomas. However, she has been a stalwart supporter of the local proposal to devote at least $143 million–- and what critics fear might easily top $200 million–- to a controversial plan to flood over 130 acres of the Ragged Mountain Natural Area for a new reservoir fed by a 9.5-mile pipeline, a plan that earmarks nothing for dredging the slowing choking Rivanna Reservoir. Dredging is a plan of action supported by a growing number of community members.

The jumbo price tag and environmental havoc (which includes felling 54,000 trees and flooding land under Interstate 64) have convinced skeptics–- among them electronics magnate Bill Crutchfield and the Sierra Club–- to request an unbiased look at dredging, which was discarded when the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority let the same firm angling for a $3.1 million dam design contract dissuade the public of dredging's merits for the community's long-term water problems.

"The present plan does not insist that dredging cannot be done," Thomas wrote [RTF] to the Sierra Club in April, "but it does create an amazing, environmentally responsible, local long-range water supply. It even manages an almost unique feature–- a reservoir that won't silt in."

Whether it'll be unique enough to justify the financial and environmental pricetag appears to be the big issue.

Thomas has told her dozen task force members that they have four months to render their opinion.

Herewith, the task force members:

Ms. Sally Thomas, Chair ¢ââ??¬“ League of Women Voters
Ms. Holly Edwards - Charlottesville City Council
Mr. Mark Fletcher - University of Virginia official with recreational interests
Mr. Mike Gaffney - Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority Board of Directors
Mr. Tom Jones - citizen representing property owners with land adjoining reservoir
Ms. Karen Joyner - Ivy Creek Foundation
Mr. Chris Lee - Charlottesville/Albemarle Chamber of Commerce
Mr. John Martin - Rivanna River Basin Commission
Ms. Wren Olivier ¢ââ??¬“ Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club
Dr. Liz Palmer - Albemarle County Service Authority Board of Directors
Mr. Dennis Rooker ¢ââ??¬“ Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
Mr. Ridge Schuyler - The Nature Conservancy
Ms. Dede Smith ¢ââ??¬“ "Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply"

–last updated 3:35pm, August12



When is the Buck Mountain Reservoir going to be back on the table. Our water situation is going to end up like our infrastructure problem, all of our leaders are so short sighted and we end up in trouble again in ten years. Come on people wake up!!!!! The resolution is going to be painful at first, but it will be the best option. Dredge the Rivanna! Use the dirt for the airport expansion of the runway, god knows they need it there. Then build the Buck Mountain Reservoir, that will be enough water for the next fifty years and then some. Maybe some common sense will be used here.

Why create a new reservoir when the estimates are that dredging the one we have will create enough capacity for the current population plus the growth that the Board of Supervisors will allow to continue without any sanity checks? Can we afford the energy that will be required to pump the water from the proposed reservoir UPHILL? But no worries - with Thomas chairing the committee the conclusion is foregone. Installing her in that position sends a very clear message. You'll get your reservoir, and we'll have a useless one closer to town in a decade or so. I hope Ms Thomas drives by it every day for the rest of her life, and looks at the lifeless mud puddle and says with pride "I did this!"

What a shame.

Sally Thomas must be voted out when she comes up for re-election. Her support of the given proposal to supply water by cutting 50,000 trees and flooding pristine countryside while wasting energy to pump water uphill is just another example of her propensity to bend to the will of the money mongers that will do irrepairable damage to the environment as in this case while at the same time is against the land use tax credit that helps small landowners afford to stay on their land and consistently votes for more and more restrictions on how farmers and property owners can utilize their own property.
I suggest the league of husbands exert control over the league of women voters and make Sally a permanent housewife.

I've awoken 20 years later and you people are still discussing dredging! How can a society which has embraced the speed of technology be slower than a snail crossing the United States in making this decision? Is Sally Fox really the one you want guiding these chickens?

How is that meadowcreek thing working out...WHAT that is still being discussed tooooooo!

Can't you see? This is all a set-up! Sally and Co. will "have their way". The make-up of this committee is in her favor. The number of votes for the other side are just not there.

The public should be outraged that instead of spending our money maintaining what we have our officials plan to spend an additional $100 million building a new dam, a new reservoir and a new pipeline

If one is to believe today's front page story about the Task Force in the Daily Progress, then Sally Thomas plans to totally ignore the public statements made by Mayor Norris and Vice Mayor Taliaferro that dredging surveys and bids could necessitate a change in the plan.

The City's interests have been overridden by the composition of this group and it would be unwise for the City to participate given the known agenda to ignore dredging as part of the water supply plan, which could save water ratepayers over $100 million dollars. Apparently, Ms. Thomas and her supporters plan to create a separate expenditure for dredging over and above the stated $142 million dollar plan that will most likely be paid for with a tax increase on all residents, including those on Wells.

City Resident is correct in knowing what the "drill" is to be. WHY isn't there a firm and strong protest by the public and the other side? Mother Sally intends to build the new reservoir no matter what. She and the others have made up their minds
and won't bend until something forces a change. How about bringing on national TV? Make a movie. This is politics at its worst the way it stands, and someone needs to rock the boat fast or this will be a done deal.

Exactly how many of the participants are county residents and how many are city?

I happen to be a county resident. I believe the the land for the Buck Mountain Res is already paid for. I might be wrong, but I have some friends that years ago sold their land and had to lease it back for their livestock. As far as I know that land like the western bypass is still in possession of their respective Government entities. So how is that for progress!

Make the fisherman and the rowers and the general public who drive across the bridge over South Fork Rivanna Reservoir pay to dredge the Reservoir. This was the clear message of the majority of task force members who are trying to keep dredging out of the 50 year water supply plan. An option that could save tens or millions of dollars and thousands of trees.

The public sees thru this. Most of these task force members represent a small group with vested interests in keeping dredging out of the 50 year water supply plan

Water supply reservoirs all over the country have recreational uses which are NOT the main function which is WATER SUPPLY.

Ragged Mt. Reservoir also has recreational uses for boaters and hikers so should we not include that in the water supply plan.

The recreational uses at the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir are closely controlled by RWSA, because this is our main water supply. To claim any other primary purpose is foolish.

The majority on this task force will try to stall dredging surveys from being completed and a dredging RFP submitted until dam construction is underway. Mayor Norris has said he does not support this and that we must find out the cost and feasibility of dredging before there is any construction on a new dam. On WINA on August 7th on the Coy Barefoot show he said the dredging surveys must be done first even if that means delaying the dam. We must hold him to his word and make sure that other City Councilors will not proceed without the dredging information

The deck of this Task Force is stacked against the dredging surveys for water supply. Let the minority speak for the PUBLIC and issue their own report.

Utility user and payer
I was at the meeting last night and the unspoken elephant in the room, dredging, was palpable.

It frightens me that we will be reliant on only one reservoir if the proposed Water Plan comes to fruition.

Who will pay to have the water pumped uphill? What if there is problem with the pumping due to mechanical failure, weather. . .