'Ballparking' RWSA: Record low water use and record high RFP?
In the long-running tragi-comedy over the local waterworks' desire to avoid dredging its main reservoir and instead build a sparkly new reservoir, two factoids emerge from the pages of the upcoming board meeting packet:
- 2011 water use is on track to match a record low
- getting a proposal to dredge the reservoir could cost over $220,000
Avid readers may recall that the Hook once covered the monthly calisthenics of this dredge-averse body, but after its board decided to ignore its own figures of plummeting water use and inflated dredging estimates– remember the Panama Canal pricing?– we moved on to other topics.
Nearly two years ago, the RWSA board hired Schnabel Engineering to design a new dam to focus all water storage efforts in one place, and after a 3-2 turnabout by City Council (the only government crying foul on that plan), all the stars seem to be lining up to begin dam construction this fall.
Even if it's not needed.
New data show that the community is using one fifth less water than a decade ago. The latest figures show use of just 8.72 million gallons a day during first five months of 2011. That's 20 percent less than the 10.91 million gallons a day drawn during the first five months of 2001 and just 0.02 million more than the record low usage of 2009, which had a rainier-than-usual summer. So unless this summer goes back into a drought as it experienced last year, this could be a year for the record books– and a fitting irony for the launch of a public works project widely seen as unnecessary.
All this is happening in a community where water customers have increased 18 percent over the past decade. The growth is most apparent in Albemarle, where hookups have increased by a third but– thanks to the average customer trimming consumption from 135,000 to 89,000 gallons– overall County usage has fallen by 14 percent. (One of the few institutions that has experienced a rise in water use during the past ten years is the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail which leapt from consuming 16 million to 22 million gallons annually– 1.47 percent of all water in the County system.)
Meanwhile, instead of simply hiring a company to dredge the reservoir, the RWSA director is showing his board another way to get an RFP, or Request For Proposal. The engineering firm he hired to study dredging a couple of years ago is now offering to assist the hiring of a dredging contractor. Projected cost of that assistance: $220,339.
According to a letter from that firm, Norfolk-based HDR, that's just the "ballpark" price. Contract negotiation and legal counsel will carry additional fees.
The RWSA board met Tuesday, June 28.
–story corrected to fix typo (one mention of "six months" shoulda been "five months") and to use averages
–story updated 5:19pm Monday, June 27 with more changes during the decade including Jail info