Surprise! Dredge meets 115% of 50-year demand
Perplexed by persistent allegations of an alleged "deficit" between future water supply and demand, this reporter phoned the Coy Barefoot show on WINA radio Tuesday afternoon and learned, contrary to assertions on its website that the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has current capacity of only 12.8 million gallons per day, it actually has 16 million daily gallons today.
Authority director Tom Frederick, whose February "fact sheets" on dredging and on a new $37 million dam that won't work without a $60 million pipeline consistently speak of a future water deficit, conceded that a large part of that deficit comes from making legally binding the voluntary stream releases that the waterworks currently cease when reservoirs run low. This was news to the Hook!
In a cover story published today, we found that dredging the Rivanna Reservoir would supply up to 5.5 million gallons of daily capacity, according to an Authority consultant. That combines with 16 million gallons to make 21.5 million, which is 115% of the projected need in 50 years of 18.7 million gallons per day.
A new citizens group has complained that information coming from the Authority–- which wants to phase out both the Sugar Hollow and the Rivanna Reservoir for a new pipeline and a mega-reservoir along Interstate 64–- has been inadequate. In fact, as Frederick conceded Tuesday, current voluntary stream releases only become mandatory under the permit for the new dam.
"The permit that we just recently approved made them mandatory," Frederick admitted on the radio program. In a post-interview email, Frederick contends that he has "consistently communicated" this point. However, citizens group member Betty Mooney disagrees.
"In the more than half a dozen times I have listened to Mr. Frederick explain the RWSA water supply proposal," she says, "I have never heard him mention that stream flow requirements have gone from voluntary to mandatory."
On the same program, former City Councilor Kevin Lynch reminded Frederick that last November, four out of five City Councilors asked for a second opinion on dredging, which the Authority estimates to cost about $145 million–- about $100 million more than some private contractors have claimed.
"Getting another study is going to take the expenditure of funds," said Frederick. "We haven't gotten direction that there needs to be another study."
Frederick has, however, released to the Hook, nearly four months after it was promised to the City Council, an update from consultants Gannett Fleming, the firm that steered Charlottesville away from dredging with its nightmarish cost and timetable depictions, now claiming that dredging would cost $225 million.
December 11 correction: The Hook having re-examined the 2004 study “Safe Yield Study [PDF]” by Gannett Fleming, it does not appear that dredging's 5.5 million gallons per day, or MGD, can be added to today's existing capacity of 16 MGD because there is siltation yet to occur. Instead, the 5.5 MGD figure should be added to the reduced 2050 capacity of 12.2 MGD. Such dredging will only supply 17.7 MGD. While that's more than enough to satisfy, say, the 14.7 MGD demand figure devised by Albemarle water resources manager Greg Harper, it's not as much as originally claimed in the above story.