Sierra Club throws support to dredging

Less than two weeks ago, its support was touted in publicly funded advertisements endorsing a controversial $143 million water plan. Now, it appears, the Sierra Club is bailing out.

"We believe that prudence now dictates reconsideration of dredging of the Rivanna Reservoir as a key element in a long-term water supply plan," reads a letter from the Club's Piedmont Group to the water authority and local lawmakers.

The letter, sent Wednesday by conservation chair Thomas Olivier, appears to deliver a blow to public officials who have, in recent weeks, maintained an impressive show of steadfastness toward the official plan despite grassroots pleas to reconsider dredging, an option shelved three years ago after nine-figure estimates from a single firm with an uncanny knack for making millions studying the local water supply.

"We are aware that in recent weeks, various knowledgeable individuals have asserted that dredging the reservoir could be conducted responsibly for far less than the estimate available at the time of our endorsement of the water plan," says the letter, which also references the "thousands of trees" which would be lost in the current plan to clear-cut over 180 acres in Ragged Mountain Natural Area.

"I am thrilled by the courage and wisdom of the Sierra Club," said Betty Mooney, a leader in the fight against the official water plan.

The Sierra Club's move puts it on the opposite side of the debate from several other environmental groups including the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Nature Conservancy, and Friends of the Moorman's River.

(Photo: Doomed by official refusals to dredge, the sediment-choked Rivanna Reservoir will shrink to just 12 percent of its original volume 42 years from now. PHOTO BY SKIP DEGAN)

13 comments

Youse guys have been doing a great job covering this. Is there a Pullet Surprize for weekly alternatives?

Youse guys should get it.

Dredge! What and reduce the cost and impact less land! Never!!! The public demands and expects the most intrusive and costly solution government can provide! Why would government consider a reasonable solution when they can impact so much more land and create waterfront property!!! Hell, so what if dredging could be done for 25 million. I (and you do too) want my water bill to increase so a consultant can look like they earned their keep!

My question is whose pocket is the Albemarle County Service Authority in? I am guessing it is the same people who have sponsored unlimited growth and clear cutting in this area for years. Not to mention, someone has made an incredible amount of money from the studies done with no results. Interesting that in 5 years my water bill has doubled and I use less water.

Of course we should be dredging the pre-existing dam!

Is it possible to have a public referendum on this in November on the ballot?

Is it possible to have a public referendum on this in November on the ballot?

Every time you vote in a local election it's a referendum on the activities of those who make decisions.

As a dredging consultant for over 30 years, with a specialization in lakes, it appears that your cost estimates are too high to hydraulically dredge. There are large lake owners, cities included, doing their own dredging in the area of $ 3.00 per cubic yard.

Please contact me for additional information.

SINCERELY,

ERIC H SEAGREN

The Hook has done a commendable job in investigating and reporting on this topic. It should inspire the public to wonder how many other decisions were made by local officials because of inadequate public scrutiny. It should inspire the public to greater in-depth involvement in the local decision-making process. What a wonderful lesson in the meaning of democracy.

Dredging is only cheaper because you get much less actual water availability from it. The current plan is the most economical from a unit of water view (cost per gallon of safe yield) when planning for a 50-year horizon. If you have an issue with this plan, it should be with the County's growth estimates that drove it.

"Dredging is only cheaper because you get much less actual water availability from it." What exactly does this mean?

I think piglet was looking far far into the future.... oh yes, let's trust our local govt to plan 40 years or 50 years out..look how good a job they did with 29 north....

Dredging is a no brainer - just elect people who support it. Thanks to the Hook for bringing this topic up.

Dredging is not the only answer. Save the Moremans River!!!

I thought the newscast the other day showed that it has been saved. Sally Thomas was there.

It means that with the current plan, you get a certain amount of water--"safe yield". With dredging, the amount of water, or "safe yield" that becomes available is much less than the other plan, so of course it is less expensive.

When 29 developed it was not done in a coordinated wtay through a plan--that's why they are going back and doing it now (the "Places29" effort). Regardless of what you think of how well government works, it doesn't make sense for planning to take place in small increments. That's what gets us into trouble, when only short-term horizons are looked at.