FLAWS- Tripled rates, spun numbers, and Conservancy conflicts: Why the war on dredging slogs on

Just when you thought it was safe to save the reservoir, the war against dredging it has reached flood stage. Waterworks director Tom Frederick– perhaps rattled by a yank of his permit to build a new reservoir, and a growing desire, amid upcoming City Council elections, to muster political support– has been spinning the latest data.

What can't be spun is that rates have essentially tripled since 1999. And yet a small cadre of environmentalists– most enmeshed in government, each with links to the other, and one actually leading a Frederick-friendly news agency– persists in pushing reservoir replacement even though it would benefit a bottled-water company at the expense of local households, destroy 180 acres of mature hardwood forest, and require an electricity-dependent pipeline moving more water than all but two local rivers.

How did such a crucial community decision fall into the hands of special interests? The old saying "Follow the money" is apt, because if there's one thing the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has, it's money. Money for consultants. Money for activists. Money to spend designing things that don't get built.

What the Authority also has is debt, $54 million today. And it's embarking on a five-year, $173-million capital improvement plan that doesn't even account for the pipeline, the most expensive piece of the plan.

Money to burn

The controversy began about four years ago when the Authority allowed a multi-national engineering firm, Gannett Fleming, hired to oversee dredging, to insist that a dam would be superior– and then to bid for the $3 million contract to engineer it.

"Is Gannett Fleming precluded from proposing on the engineering?" asked a competing dam bidder back in 2007. "If not, how does one deal with a potential conflict of interest?"

The questioner was Pittsburgh-based engineer Paul Rizzo, who, along with the Charlottesville office of Schnabel Engineering, lost out on that deal. But like Schnabel, Rizzo's day would come.

A year later, with its vision for a concrete dam blowing the $143 million budget, Gannett Fleming was out, and Rizzo and Schnabel were back. Schnabel got over a million dollars to design an earthen dam, and although his correspondence (which a reporter uncovered with a Freedom of Information request) indicates that Rizzo never received an answer to his conflict question, he got something better: an open-ended contract of his own.

Rizzo was part of a three-man panel invited for occasional Charlottesville visits to render opinions on competing plans, and, at the expense of Charlottesville water users, enjoy expensive meals at the Ivy Inn and Hamiltons' restaurants. Not counting the meals, he has earned over $40,000.

When the Authority allows 45 years to pass without dredging its main reservoir, engineers aren't the only ones who profit. Two attorneys– Bill Ellis, who runs his own firm in Richmond, and Kurt Krueger of McGuire Woods– earn the bulk of the legal fees with the latter earning a fee of over $500 per hour. In just the most recent month, the RWSA paid $13,600 in legal bills. (And for the record, Frederick says there was never a hiring conflict because Krueger says so.)

Despite all the spending, the RWSA remains momentarily rich, with liquid assets of over $38 million. That's a $7 million spike in the cash stash over the previous year and a clear windfall from hiking rates before building infrastructure.

The Authority holds more money than the Charlottesville city government's General Fund. And yet at a 2008 meeting, Authority director Frederick took a moment to complain that pesky public questions were vexing his staff and threatening his war chest, having cost the Authority at least $10,000. Around the same time, Frederick invited the lead Gannett Fleming engineer back to give his usual PowerPoint presentation portraying dredging as messy, smelly, and hopelessly expensive. Frederick cut him a check for $12,000.

Panama!

Like so many things, the history of dredging in Albemarle goes back to Thomas Jefferson. He took over his father's gristmill at Shadwell in 1765 and quickly realized that rather than rolling tobacco down to boats docked in Scottsville, local planters could speed their wares to Richmond by clearing obstructions from the Rivanna River. So by that fall, the 23-year-old Jefferson had won permission from the General Assembly, had privately raised the funds, and oversaw the enterprise. How proud was Jefferson of his dredging?

"When he drew up a list of constructive public services in which he had been useful," writes biographer Willard Sterne Randall, "he listed first his youthful Rivanna project and second his authorship of the Declaration of Independence."

Alas, Albemarle's first major dredging turned out to be its last. The reason, if the RWSA's advisors are to be believed: it's just too expensive.

During the run-up to the dam decision, Gannett Fleming slammed a previous consultant's estimate as too expensive at $40 million. By December of that year, Gannett Fleming came up with its own dredging estimate of $142 million.

"We were told it was too expensive at $40 million, and we were told it was too expensive at $142 million," says former Charlottesville Planning Commissioner Betty Mooney, who attended many of the water meetings.

As myriad private contractors would later assert, the sediment from the bottom of the lake has value as sand and topsoil, which can sell for 10 times its extraction price. But not to Gannett Fleming. The firm told Charlottesville that they'd probably need to hire a veritable convoy of dump trucks to haul the stuff, like so much toxic waste, to a landfill.

In 2007, something even odder happened. At a City Council meeting that November, someone questioned the $142 million dredging estimate. Frederick piped up that his experts had made a study showing it might cost as much as a quarter billion dollars. A few months later, the Hook asked Frederick for a copy. At first, Frederick said he couldn't find it. Several weeks later (and after the legal limit for producing public documents), Frederick passed along a six-page memo. Penned by Gannett Fleming's lead engineer and dated March 2008, it did portray a scenario under which dredging the Rivanna Reservoir might really cost $223 million.

A month later, a Belgian firm won a contract to dredge the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal– for $46 million less.

Fits and starts

Gannett Fleming's not the only firm to benefit from the RWSA's largesse. By mid-November 2000, a Richmond firm called Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, VHB, had rung up over $846,000 in bills to secure environmental permits for a planned Buck Mountain Reservoir. But the local waterworks, deciding the effort was futile, never actually applied for any permits, and redirected the firm in 2002 to begin investigating other ways to augment water supply. VHB rang up another $140,000 in billings as it concluded that a four-foot bladder atop the Rivanna dam– combined with conservation, dredging, and recreational lake draw-downs– would slake citizens' thirst despite any drought Mother Nature could offer over the next 50 years.

But two years later, none of its recommendations had been enacted. That's when Gannett Fleming stepped in to malign dredging and suggest that VHB had botched the bladder numbers by overestimating the gains; so the now Frederick-led Authority ousted VHB from the payroll. Or did it?

As it turned out, VHB came back to the trough– as a subcontractor to Gannett Fleming when the latter firm was hired for part of what eventually became about $3.8 million in billings. In October 2007, the waterworks chose VHB– without VHB even having to state a price– as its preferred environmental "mitigation consultant" and negotiated a fee of $446,000.

"It appears to me that VHB got bought off," says former City Councilor Kevin Lynch. "They got used as the fall guys, but then they were promptly rehired on the team." The VHB project manager declined comment.

Free-wheeling or free-market?

It's no secret who brought the $143 million dam-pipeline plan to Charlottesville: it was the Nature Conservancy. A non-profit whose claim to fame is a hard-science approach to ecology, the Conservancy– rather than pestering lawmakers like some other eco-organizations– supposedly reaches into the pockets of donors to buy threatened land.

Claims of this can-do approach endeared the Conservancy to businesspeople grown jaded by watching government react with legislation when louder organizations got their way. As it turns out, however, the Conservancy is quite skilled at reaching into pockets– often the pockets of taxpayers.

The Conservancy pushed what may turn out to be one of the largest transfers of wealth in Virginia history, and perhaps in American history, when the group lobbied state lawmakers to rewrite land laws to favor land preservation. In 1999, the Conservancy declared victory in four states, including Virginia, with something called conservation tax credits. Heralded by the original law's Virginia sponsor, Creigh Deeds, as a way to save family farms, the credits pay large landowners not to develop their acres.

However, instead of rewarding struggling family farms, sprawling farmettes and horse farms for the upper crust in Fauquier and Albemarle have become the prime beneficiaries. And yet Virginia's low state tax rate originally meant that even wealthy landowners were initially unable to take full advantage– particularly when millions of credits might flow from a single conservation easement. So the Conservancy lobbied to permit landowners to sell the credits. That change unleashed a torrent that has cost Virginia taxpayers over a billion dollars, including $108 million just last year.

When an inner-city mom sells her food stamps for cash on a street corner, it's welfare fraud. When a land baron sells his tax credits to a broker, it's free enterprise.

The Conservancy's ability to earn fees and flip land has fueled its growth and endeared it to the financial world, including a remarkable cross-over with Goldman Sachs. Not only do the current Conservancy president and three members of the board hail from stints at Goldman Sachs, past Conservancy chair Henry Paulson was Goldman Sachs CEO under whom a product called CDOs brought billions into company coffers.

Don't recall CDOs? They're "collateralized debt obligations," the things that collapsed in the summer of 2008 and threatened global turmoil. Perhaps appropriately, it was Paulson, then serving as U.S. Treasury Secretary, who bailed out Goldman Sachs and other private businesses with over $700 billion in taxpayer funds.

In Central Virginia, the Conservancy remains a major player in the conservation tax credit scheme, which, despite carrying a controversial cloak of secrecy, blew up earlier this year when someone leaked documents revealing that a potentially fraudulent appraisal underpinned the taxpayer bailout of a housing development called Biscuit Run.

If the Conservancy steered clear of Biscuit Run, its dam has raised eyebrows– particularly over the fervent lobbying by Conservancy officials. A lot is riding on their success.

Mr. Bills pays the bills

In 2005, Nestlé Waters, the company that bottles such beverages as Poland Spring and Perrier, revealed that it was giving the Conservancy's Charlottesville office $1 million to make the Rivanna River the centerpiece of a pilot program to provide sufficient water for creatures both aquatic and human.

"The Nature Conservancy has a vested interest in this plan," says former City Councilor Rob Schilling, pointing out the millions in additional grants, donations, and consulting fees that may flow to the Conservancy if it succeeds in getting this national model constructed.

Just as it's hard to recall any mention of Nestlé in what's been called the Community Water Supply Plan, it's hard to discuss the Plan without the presence of Conservancy advocates. Just last week, former U.S. Senate and Congressional staffer and former Conservancy lobbyist Ridge Schuyler appeared in City Council chambers to excoriate dredging as "disgraceful" and claim that underprivileged children would suffer if Council continues to discuss the issue. Two days later in Riverview Park, Conservancy executive Bill Kittrell held a press conference to bash dredging and tout the corporate-assisted plan.

Kittrell may not have won mainstream acceptance, but he did win a front-page story in the Daily Progress.

Ever since the Progress' money-losing parent company, Media General, partnered two years ago with growth-focused news agency Charlottesville Tomorrow, readers of the daily have gotten much of their news not from the youthful reporters the Progress typically hires, but from a middle-aged veteran of County government who now reports to a deep-pocketed Conservancy donor named Michael Bills. That reporter is former School Board member Brian Wheeler, and the potential conflict doesn't sit well with Schilling.

A Republican and a WINA radio talk-show host, Schilling is one of the five City Councilors who in 2006 unanimously voted to seek the dam permits, but like a majority of those Councilors, he has since renounced his vote, saying he was duped by faulty information. Reading Wheeler's July 20 top-of-the-fold story honoring Kittrell and company– "Report, groups agree: new estimates appear to back plan for dam"– gave Schilling a rude awakening.

"I almost gagged on my cornflakes," Schilling told listeners. "I can't believe no one's talking about this."

Who is Michael Bills? To investors, each of whom must put up a minimum of $3 million, he's a successful hedge fund manager with an office on the Downtown Mall. And like former Treasury Secretary Paulson, he has worked at Goldman Sachs. To the folks at the Virginia Nature Conservancy, he's the chairman of the board.

Schilling's anger starts with the fact that as founder and funder of the Charlottesville Tomorrow news service, Bills signs Wheeler's paycheck. Further rankling Schilling is that Conservancy employee Kittrell has found his way onto a government board setting water policy.

"What on earth is Albemarle County doing seating people on the board who are serving the Nature Conservancy?" asks Schilling. "Does that smell bad to you? Because it smells horrible to me."

It smells fine to the person who placed Kittrell on the Albemarle County Service Authority.

"I nominated him, and the board approved him," says Ann Mallek, chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. "The reason I nominated him was because of the ecological balance issue. We need to make sure we have perspectives all over the place."

As for any question of Kittrell's lobbying, Mallek notes, "He hasn't lobbied me at all."

It's all about the Moormans

To understand how the dam plan emerged, it's important to start with the Moormans River, which begins in the hollows of Shenandoah National Park and includes the spectacular "Blue Hole" swimming area. The river's two forks come together in a reservoir which in turn feeds an old iron pipe that supplies Charlottesville with what the state health department calls the area's purest drinking water. Alas, one of the goals of the new dam is decommissioning the pipeline. The official reason is that the pipe may be approaching the end of its service life, and nearby property owners blame it for sucking the life out of the Moormans.

Conservancy lawyer Schuyler began touting the dam-pipeline concept back in 2005. The iron pipe is at least 80 years old, and it leads to the existing Ragged Mountain reservoir, which needs a new spillway. Why not discard them both?

Under the Conservancy plan, the Rivanna River would become the source of virtually all the area's water supply as it would be tapped with a new 36-inch pipeline to carry water to the mammoth new reservoir in the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. The idea has undeniable appeal. Not only does it replace aging infrastructure, it bolsters flows to the Moormans, and it attempts to tap the Rivanna primarily during times of high flow when Albemarle's largest river can afford to give up a few gallons.

Besides the cost and environmental destruction the plan entails, there are unnatural things about the Moormans. Below the dam, it's stocked every season with rainbow trout by a private group called Trout Unlimited. While prized as a sport fish by fly-reel aficionados, rainbows are not native to this river or anywhere else on the East Coast.

The Conservancy's Kittrell has appeared in City Council chambers to claim that the dam-centric plan "mimics" natural river flows. However, in a public presentation last year, Conservancy water planner Brian Richter conceded that the dam plan will actually create unnaturally high flows in the Moormans River during summer months. That might explain why those who live around the Moormans have been such vocal supporters.

But how to explain support from such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, or from ostensibly conservative politicians such as the two Republicans on the Board of Supervisors who took office on a promise of "zero-based" budgeting?

"I think the plan that is on the table provides the most water for the community at the lowest cost," says independent Supervisor Dennis Rooker. "If it actually becomes a 60-year plan, I don't view that as a bad thing."

However, Kendra Hamilton, one of those dam-vote regretting City Councilors, has called the scheme a "pig in a poke" and issued an open letter.

"The entire focus," wrote Hamilton, "is on building an enormous dam and pipeline and protecting the Moormans River– a lovely resource, but one that primarily benefits well-heeled private property owners and those with the transportation and the means to purchase a trout-fishing license."

Rate shocks and conservation

Back in 1999, a benchmark three years before the century's major drought, the RWSA was charging enough to cover its costs and putting something aside for a rainy day– well, hopefully, for a non-rainy day. At that time, the typical household's water/sewer cost to use 5,000 gallons a month was $26.70 in the county, $23.18 in the city. Today, the figures top $65 and $67, a 290 percent city increase.

The year 2002 changed everything. That was the summer when the skies failed to open, the summer of the "drought of record," according to the RWSA, which vowed to store more water and announced a $13 million-plan for dredging and augmenting the main reservoir.

But then something unexpected happened. Even after rainfall resumed, conservation continued. At first, leaders figured it was a momentary blip. Surely, they thought, citizens will go back to their water-hogging ways.

But long after the drastic measures (paper plates and "if-it's-yellow-let-it-mellow") were flushed away, long-term conservation has taken hold, and nobody's sure why. Low-flow toilets? Rain barrels? Wiser tooth-brushing? Or did relentless price hikes simply encourage water thrift? Whatever the cause, figures compiled by the Hook show that urban water use has gone down and stayed down.

In 2006, Frederick submitted to regulators his case for building the dam-and-pipeline and claimed the area would be in a water deficit within two years. He included a graph showing a steeply climbing demand line and a steeply dropping supply line. But at a dredging forum in 2008, the year the two lines were supposed to cross, former City Councilor Kevin Lynch had already noticed that Frederick's frightening figures were being contradicted by actual human practice.

"How many years of conservation do we need to see," Lynch asked, "before we can call that a trend?"

More remarkable is that consumption fell amid rising population and water hookups. Back in 1999, there were 25,596 local accounts buying over four billion gallons of water. By the end of fiscal 2010, there were 30,788 accounts, a 20 percent increase. And yet all these people were buying just 3.1 billion gallons of water, a nearly 20 percent decrease.

"To many, conservation means sacrifice, as in flushing the toilet once a day and two-minute showers," Dan Bieker recently wrote in a letter to the Progress. "Not so at all– true conservation means the incorporation of revolutionary water-saving technologies, many of which are available now."

An ornithology professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College, Bieker has volunteered his time for the Nature Conservancy and– "except on this issue where I think they're wrong"– Bieker says he holds great respect for the group. However, says Bieker, "Their focus should be more on conservation."

A "major modification"

In their state permit and in an effort to show better stewardship of frogs and fish, local waterworks director Frederick and the Conservancy have converted voluntary daily releases from all the local reservoirs into legal requirements. Frederick learned so much about "streamflows" that he'd eventually use them to undercut positive claims for dredging.

One can't tell if Frederick was wearing a straight face when he issued his last release to Charlottesville Tomorrow. It's just a little chart that compares dredging to damming, but it claims that repeated dredging only provides 10.3 million gallons  of water a day. Currently, the undredged urban water system provides nearly 16 million gallons, or a little over 13 million if the streamflows are observed.

How can dredging diminish the system? It actually doesn't, and Frederick tells the Hook that the numbers should not be compared to the existing system. But other reporters have already done so with no obvious objection.

About three weeks earlier, Frederick found himself saddled with a particularly unwelcome set of data. He had just taken delivery of a report that– even though he commissioned it, and even though it rests on the questionable assumption that the local population will nearly double in 50 years– severely undercuts his quest for the new reservoir with an updated consumption forecast that's much lower than previously reported.

“This report confirms the community's need to expand the Ragged Mountain Reservoir,” Frederick said in a prepared statement. Indeed, it was prepared– as if for a more pessimistic report, one that didn't materialize.

In fact, Frederick didn't even want the so-called AECOM report to materialize this way. When issuing the call for proposals back in February, he initially advertised for just a 30-year planning horizon, despite his own long-time insistence– above and beyond state law– on a 50-year water plan. In a pre-study email to this reporter, Frederick defended the pursuit of a limited horizon as an effort to "keep this cost as low as possible."

It's obvious what Frederick may find unpleasant in the new report: it shows that in the year 2055, when urban users were formerly predicted to be drawing 18.7 million gallons per day, they'll need just 16.3 million. That means that the leading dredge-centric alternate plan– offering 16.9 million– could handle demand. And that's a pretty big finger in Frederick's dike.

On the July morning he released the report, Frederick stood before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and congratulated them for their wisdom in approving his dam's local permits. Unfortunately for Frederick, just a week earlier, state regulators had pulled their permit.

On June 28, the Department of Environmental Quality decreed that Frederick needs to supply 12 things as part of what's called a "major modification." (Ironically, when pro-dam groups like Charlottesville Tomorrow were trumpeting the DEQ's alleged dismissal of the dredge-centric alternative last year, a "major modification" was one of the leading fears.)

Now that his more fiscally conservative dredge-centric water plan appears to reach the bar of supplying 50 years' worth of water, Charlottesville Mayor Davis Norris says he feels vindicated.

"It's incumbent on local officials," says Norris, "to adjust their plans."

Friends feeding friends?

The Roman Polanski movie Chinatown paints a sordid picture of a water diversion for future private benefit in Southern California. In Central Virginia, however, the benefits from following the Conservancy's lead have already begun.

"There really are only two questions that should govern the final decision on this plan," said Charlottesville Democratic Party chair and frequent dam lobbyist Jim Nix when framing the issue for City Council last August. "Does it provide adequate water for this community for the next 50 years, and does it do so with minimal adverse environmental impact?"

Nix is a volunteer for the Nature Conservancy, and, like the dam's opponents, he doesn't seem to have profited from conservation tax credits. However, many of this debate's major players have.

They include Supervisor Mallek, Conservancy chair Bills, all three publicly identified members of the "Friends of the Moormans" (including ever-present John Martin), Southern Environmental Law Center boss Rick Middleton, and Piedmont Environmental Council chair Tony Vanderwarker.

One of the frequent dam-endorsing commenters to City Council is Leslie Middleton, who heads a recently founded group called the Rivanna Basin Commission whose start-up money, $392,000, was raised by the Conservancy.

How about the three players that joined the Conservancy at the recent press conference? There was the Piedmont Environmental Council. Headquartered in the Fauquier County town of Warrenton, the Council recently was certified to accept tax credit easements. Also present was the League of Women Voters, which let veterinarian Liz Palmer do its talking. (A reporter's request for the League's donor list was not answered; and unlike public officials, water lobbyists don't have to disclose their donors.)

Then there's Robbi Savage. She formerly held a concurrent pair of six-figure positions at the helm of non-profit water organizations in Washington, but after a 2005 audit determined that one of them had funneled federal clean-water grant money into the coffers of a pork industry lobbying group, she moved to Stanardsville. The Environmental Protection Agency's audit of Savage's time atop America's Clean Water Foundation led to closure of that organization (and eventually torpedoed the candidacy of a UVA Law professor who'd been on its board and tapped for a high EPA post in the Obama administration).

Savage attributes her advocacy of the dam-pipeline plan, as the director of the donation-funded Rivanna Conservation Society, solely to the project's merits, not to any appreciation for the $5,000 grant her group recently received from the RWSA. (The grant assisted "The Year of the River," a one-time special event.)

In a recent telephone interview, Michael Bills denied that Charlottesville Tomorrow was under his sway and told a reporter that passage of the dam plan is "not a priority for the Conservancy." That was about a week before Conservancy employee Kittrell's press conference.

Back in 2008, a reporter uncovered an email showing that someone was quietly trying to strong-arm the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport away from buying the dredged sediment. Although the ever-growing Airport had a history of spending millions to truck in dirt, and despite its location almost immediately adjacent to the silty reservoir, a member of the local Airport commission had button-holed the Airport director to tell her it was "not appropriate" to include the Airport in any dredging discussion.

Who was the person trying to derail the chance to save the Airport cash and make dredging profitable? It was Gregory Edwards, a full-time fundraiser for the Nature Conservancy.

"When you tear back the curtain," says retired engineer Richard Lloyd, "you find one very selfish group."

Lloyd finds himself aghast at the undisclosed underpinnings of the dam plan and fearful that money has corrupted the debate. Like a group consisting mostly of former officials (including Lynch and Mooney) called Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply, Lloyd wants dredging. And he notes that the local chapter of the Sierra Club stands nearly alone– both for its absence of paid staff and for its steadfast support for dredging.

Unlike some of the players in this debate, it's hard to see where the Citizens would benefit from the thousands of hours they've spent filing info requests and countering what they call the "red herring" allegations about dredging. High cost, heavy metals, regulatory hurdles? The Citizens provided facts to counter them all.

And yet the Conservancy may be winning the war. It sure looked that way in January when a 3-2 City Council vote suddenly undid Mayor Norris' plan. But it turns out that this is an election year with three seats up for grabs, and Norris has indicated that he's eager– especially with the fresh demand figures– to go back into the water.

While the election won't technically occur until November, with no Rob Schilling or other Republican in the mix, the ultimate victors will probably emerge August 20 when anyone who calls himself a Democrat can choose among seven Democratic candidates. There are four pro-dredging candidates: Brevy Cannon, Dede Smith, Colette Blount, and James Halfaday. And there are three clearly pro-dam candidates: Satyendra Huja, Kathleen Galvin, and Paul Beyer. Interestingly, there are also four independent candidates, all in the pro-dredging camp.

We need a bigger dam

There was a cringe-worthy moment during the Reagan Administration when budget director David Stockman said the president's "trickle-down" economic theory wouldn't work. Now comes Liz Palmer with another trickle-down shocker. A key presenter at the Conservancy press event, Palmer quietly admits the new dam doesn't actually provide what most backers say it offers: additional water supply.

"The interim storage volume provides no new water for growth," Palmer revealed in a supposed-to-be-secret email to City Councilor Kristin Szakos before going on to deride the dam as a political compromise by "elected officials, who are not well versed in the objectives or methodologies of the plan, coming in at the 11th hour and altering a well thought-out, holistic plan developed by competent engineers."

Indeed, Rivanna documents clearly indicate that a 30-foot reservoir increase adds nothing to the local water supply– only to those all-important "streamflows." The email was leaked to radio man Schilling. Anyone reading his blog can see that Palmer tells Szakos the dam "benefits rivers but not people."

Conservancy and the Corps

Palmer wasn't entirely correct. The dam does benefit some people: the ones connected to the Nature Conservancy. In addition to gaining a national model for river health, the once-independent non-profit can show Nestlé how it used that million-dollar grant.

Years of savvy partnerships have helped the Nature Conservancy become what it is today: a company with nearly a billion dollars in annual revenue and assets of over $5 billion. It's still a non-profit, but some of its hallowed independence has been lost.

For instance, the Conservancy has a 16-year history of partnering with the Norfolk Office of the Army Corps of Engineers to give developers a novel way to disturb habitats without having to creating new ones. The program has every appearance of serving both as a win for the environment and for business because instead of forcing each developer to painstakingly create new habitat, the developer can simply pay into a trust fund that oversees the work of restoring woodlands and wetlands at a two-to-one ratio across the Commonwealth.

Wanna ruin an acre? Just pay $65,000 into the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund.

With the Conservancy's prestige and scientific prowess, the Fund presents a huge opportunity for ecology. Unfortunately, it may also present a huge opportunity for conflict.

Since 1995, the Army Corps has made the Conservancy the sole party to tap the Fund for over 112 "mitigation" projects from Tidewater marshes to the Blue Ridge. The Conservancy has overseen the disbursal of $39.7 million on nature and, according to the latest figures, $4.2 million for itself, as the Fund's annual report reveals that the Conservancy receives an "overhead fee" of three percent of each payment.

That the Conservancy has a monopoly right to pocket $2,000 every time a developer disturbs an acre troubles Richard Collins, a UVA professor and former chair of the RWSA who has repeatedly attempted to persuade the Army Corps to revisit dredging.

Aside from the DEQ, the Army Corps is the only regulatory body standing in the way of the dam; and in carrying out its mission of enforcing the Clean Water Act, the Corps is supposed to ensure that any new water supply is "the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative." They even have an acronym: LEDPA.

Nationally, dredging reservoirs is the typical LEDPA. But not in Charlottesville, where– wouldn't you know it– dredging's just too expensive. Seen as less damaging and cheaper than felling forests and blocking waterways with dams, dredging was dismissed early in the local discussion thanks to those Panama Canal-level estimates.

Collins has noticed something else about the unique Corps-Conservancy relationship. The Conservancy gets to decide where to set up "mitigation" projects. One of them is about to start in Charlottesville, a $3.95 million effort to rebuild nearly two miles of degraded banks along Meadow Creek. Collins lauds stream restoration but says there are far worthier restoration projects than this one, which just happens to be coordinated with an RWSA sewer line project. Collins calls this a "sweetener" and a "greasing of the wheels," a discretionary infusion of dollars that could warm the hearts of local officials.

Back in 2009, a reporter reminded Army Corps officials that by law they must reevaluate the dam permit if any information turned out to be "inaccurate" or upon  receipt of any "significant new information." The Corps' project manager replied by sending a copy of a year-old letter calling cheaper dredging proposals "cursory." Since then, multiple dredging offers have been advanced, including suggestions that it could happen for little or no net cost. Even an official RWSA study puts the range at $34-40 million before selling so much as a pound of sediment.

So last week, this reporter asked again about the permit.

"We're looking at it," says Army Corps project manager Vincent Pero, declining to give a timetable for when the Corps might decide, and declining to address the question of whether the Trust Fund puts the Army Corps too close to the people and projects that it's supposed to be regulating.

Bone dry in Sugar Hollow

The rationale of the dam-pipeline plan now rests on two concepts, each looking increasingly untenable: inflated cost estimates that pushed dredging off the table, and inflated water consumption estimates undercut by a decade of real-world declines. If only Frederick had built his dam faster, there wouldn't be so much data to reveal the flaws in his figures.

Over the years, the Nature Conservancy appears to have ceased to be the group that avoided government entanglement, as conservation tax credits have put millions in the pockets of already wealthy land-owners and served as a direct cause of the Biscuit Run scandal.

But at least the Conservancy still has its science. Or does it?

Last September, Central Virginia was in such a severe and sustained drought that Kevin Lynch wanted to see for himself how the RWSA was handling the Moormans River. Above the reservoir, in the part touched only by God, the Moormans was dry. Bone dry. Both forks.

And yet the reservoir, rather than mimicking the natural flow, which was zero, was spewing one million gallons a day into the lower Moormans.

"It looked like a water cannon," says Lynch.

While the neighbors must have been pleased to see RWSA equipment spewing a million gallons a day to wet the riverbed when Nature decreed otherwise, Lynch says the ultimate plan is to spew as much as 10 million gallons.

"The point is that there is nothing natural about releasing a steady stream of water into the Moormans in a drought," says Lynch. "They are forcing it to behave like an entirely different river."

Ironically, an effort to put stream gauges on the upper Moormans, a project that would finally show the public how the river really behaves, has been fought for years by the Authority, even though the cost might be under $80,000. Too expensive, according to Authority director Frederick.

"It has now been eight years," says Lynch, "since the City and County imposed substantial rate increases on water users in order to pay for a plan that originally included dredging the Rivanna Reservoir and repairing the Ragged Mountain Reservoir spillway. Since that time, the Authority has used the ratepayers' money to make dozens of consultants fabulously wealthy, but not one drop has been added to the water supply."
~

–-> more water stories from the past three years

This story is a part of the Water plan all wet? special.

138 comments

This is a much-needed perspective on a most important issue for our community. I trust that all eleven candidates for city council for city council will read it carefully, especially the three who currently oppose a dredging-first approach--Paul Beyer, Kathy Galvin and Satyendra Huja. Those three are fine people and strong candidates, but they have been misled on the water supply issue. I hope they will reconsider their position--they'll be even stronger candidates if they represent the best interests of city residents.

I too am discouraged by the close mineded approach of the 3 candidates you mention running for city council on this issue, especially after listening to this interview with Kathy Galvin on the Coy Barefoot show.

I am waiting for her to release another press release and admit she made a mistake supporting these special interests and not the best interests of city residents . Her entire approach in this interview, not just on water, would sacrifice city interests for a county agenda, that disturbs me.

I hope all voters will listen to this before they vote for Ms. Galvin.

http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5396737

If only our officials had heeded Mr. Crutchfield's sage advice, published in the Hook over 3 years ago - tens of millions of ratepayer dollars, and thousands of staff and citizen hours would have been saved. I would like to thank the entire Hook staff for their service in reporting this story in full for our community.

April 28, 2008
Hawes Spencer
Editor and Publisher
The Hook
100 Second Street, N.W.
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Dear Hawes:
I want to compliment you for writing and The Hook for publishing the April 3rd and April 24th articles on the controversy surrounding the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority's proposed $143 million water plan. You raised some very important issues which the community needs to understand.

Since the beginning of this debate, I have felt that it is a mistake not to dredge the South Rivanna reservoir. Furthermore, my instincts have been extremely uncomfortable with the concept of enlarging the Ragged Mountain dam and connecting the Ragged Mountain and South Rivanna reservoirs with a 9.5 mile pipeline.
I must preface my remarks by saying that my opinions are based on what I have read in the media and have heard in the community. I have not been privy to any of the technical discussions that officials of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle have had regarding this subject. Nevertheless, it appears that the decision makers may have failed to ask the types of questions that prudent businesspeople ask when making tough decisions. Here are seven questions that initially come to my mind:

Why did the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority seek a cost feasibility study for dredging from only one consultant? They hired a consultant, Gannett Fleming, to determine the cost of dredging. Their estimate was $145 million. However, other parties believed the cost would be significantly less. A dredging contractor was willing to do it for $21 million--- 85% less. Under these circumstances, prudent businesspeople would have commissioned at least one other cost study.

Was it a conflict of interest for Gannett Fleming to provide an estimate for dredging and be asked to design the dam? The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority asked Gannett Fleming to compete for the design of the Ragged Mountain dam.

Obviously, if dredging was determined to be a good option, there may not have been a need to design a dam. As it turned out, Gannett Fleming was awarded a $3.1 contract for dam design. Prudent businesspeople would have seen this situation as a potential conflict of interest. They would have commissioned a dredging feasibility study from a firm or firms that did not have a vested interest in the Authority's decision not to dredge.

What is the professional qualification of the Nature Conservancy for developing this plan? Apparently, an official with the Nature Conservancy devised it. According to its website, the Nature Conservancy's mission is "to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive." The Nature Conservancy performs this mission admirably. However, designing municipal water systems is not one of their core competencies. Prudent businesspeople would not have based a decision on a plan developed by an organization that did not have the appropriate expertise and experience.

Did the Nature Conservancy understand the full environmental impact of their plan? It has been reported that their plan calls for clear cutting 54,000 trees over 180 acres. Apparently, the Sierra Club now understands the plan's impact and is withdrawing its endorsement of it. Prudent businesspeople would have understood all aspects of a plan before adopting it.

How much money will local water customers pay and how large is the carbon footprint for the incremental electricity production? Little has been said about the energy needed to pump enormous quantities of water through a 9.5 mile pipeline and then up a small mountain. Prudent businesspeople would factor the financial and environmental costs of a plan that requires the use of so much electrical energy.

Has anyone in the decision-making process looked for creative as opposed to consultant-packaged, generic solutions? The best decisions are often based on creative, non-conventional ideas. For example, there is an abandoned stone quarry within walking distance of the South Rivanna reservoir's dam. It may be possible to buy the quarry and pump sediment into it. The dewatering of the sediment might occur naturally--- the sediment would sink to the bottom and the water could be pumped off the top. Another non-conventional idea would be to buy the low-lying, river-front land that includes the old UVa polo field. Because it is in the Rivanna River's flood plain, this land probably has no development potential. Sediment could be pumped the short distance to it for drying and future sale. Prudent businesspeople would explore creative solutions like these.

What are the long-term ramifications of not dredging? Eventually, the reservoir would fill with sediment and become a giant swamp. If that were to happen, the public would demand a complex and costly remediation. Prudent businesspeople would consider long-term issues like this one.

Although the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority's water plan may be flawed, I do applaud them for attempting to find a long-term solution for our water needs. As I understand it, if the South Rivanna reservoir is completely dredged, our water system would revert back to the capacity that it had 40 years ago. Obviously, we need to find ways to increase our water capacity. This goal is especially important considering the possibility of a reduction in average rainfall as a result of climate change.

As the Authority moves forward with its future planning, I hope that they learn to ask the right questions.
Sincerely,
William G. Crutchfield, Jr.

http://www.readthehook.com/75744/crutchfield-im-no-dredging-expert

Below are excerpts from the Virginia regulations for the board that certifies various professionals, including professional engineers http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+18VAC10-20

18VAC10-20-700. Public statements.
A. The professional shall be truthful in all professional matters. The professional shall include all relevant and pertinent information in professional reports, statements, or testimony, which shall include the date indicating when such information was current.

18VAC10-20-710. Conflicts of interest.
A. The regulant shall promptly and fully inform an employer or client of any business association, interest, or circumstance which may influence the professional's judgment or the quality of service.

Wow. If the information in this article is correct you guys have more problems than a future water supply.

I admire the many courageous individuals who have fought intimidation and public scolding to bring this information to the light of day.

One whistleblower, who early on recognized the " Flaws " was Greg Harper, and even as a county employee, he sounded the alarm bells.

"Who is this County staff person giving this opinion?" asks incredulous Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority board member Gary O'Connell in a late-May email [pdf] to Harper's boss. (Until he changed course last month and began pressing for harder numbers on the total cost of a planned dam/pipeline system, O'Connell, who is also the Charlottesville City manager, was widely considered one of the water plan's biggest backers.)
"Is it true," O'Connell continued in the email to Albemarle County Administrator Bob Tucker, "one of the county staff is challenging the demand numbers?"

http://www.readthehook.com/73574/pumped-county-water-guru-says-numbers-i...

Is this the tipping point --will the public finally be outraged enough to act ?

jeez louise: it doesn't matter if the information in the article is correct. What matters is the end result and those ends justify the means of smearing anyone who is opposed to dredging. Get with the program or else!

Editor and Reporter Hawes Spencer will discuss this story in more detail and take your comments and questions on "Charlottesville—Right Now" this Friday at 5pm on WINA 1070AM. You can listen live online at wina.com.

Meanwhile - smearing the pro dredgers is minor. Look what the gang of 5 who now run RWSA did to Peter van de Linde when he built his single stream waste project. Persecution with a bogus RICO suit. They tried to discredit him personally and destroy him financially. Smearing is minor for these guys.

Nice job, Hawes. Thank you for bringing some sunshine to this murky issue. Now about that bypass . . .

The amount of hyperbole in this polemic is astounding. I mean, really.

Mr. Spencer would be MUCH more persuasive if he simply presented the facts. Instead, nearly EVERY fact is shaded or spun, despite his admonishment early on: " What can't be spun is that rates have essentially tripled since 1999."

He then proceeds to expose exactly how the slant of the article would lean:

"And yet a small cadre of environmentalists-- most enmeshed in government, each with links to the other, and one actually leading a Frederick-friendly news agency-- persists in pushing reservoir replacement even though it would benefit a bottled-water company at the expense of local households, destroy 180 acres of mature hardwood forest, and require an electricity-dependent pipeline moving more water than all but two local rivers.:

This should be read by that dude that does the voice over for horror movie trailers. Ooooooh! All but two "local rivers"!!!! Wow. And ELECTRICITY is being used!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MIX ELECTRICITY AND WATER!!!! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

What's truly discouraging is how this is just preaching to the choir. As someone that likes to read dispassionate analysis of this and other local issues, I am dismayed that this can't be read without realizing that nearly every statement is some sort of assumption, assertion or innuendo.

It's also discouraging that there are actual facts related to this issue and someone, somewhere could do a good job of assembling them and presenting them in an unbiased manner. This article fails to do so.

What on earth does Van Der Linde have to do with this? This is part of my problem with this article. There are no unrelated facts. He brings up welfare moms selling food stamps, for Pete's sake. Yes, I'm for poor people eating food so I guess that means I'm for dredging!!!

To me, this reads like a rushed undergraduate thesis. I'd give it a C were I grading it. It needs to be edited for grammar and content. Does The Hook even have an editor?

At least you don't deny that the article is smearing people and I appreciate your honesty, Fear and Trembling. There is so much intellectual dishonesty surrounding this very real issue and this article is a perfect example.

What's sad is how many people will be swayed by this. Mr. Spencer clearly has his opinion and his soap box. He'll be able to fool some of the people some of the time and that's the important thing.

Meanwhile - Same gang of 5 who persecuted van der Linde are running RWSA. Get it?

What's sad is how three people who seem otherwise intelligent (Galvin, Beyer, Huja) have bought the Liz Palmer-ACSA-RWSA-Charlottesville Tomorrow lies hook, line and sinker. It's pathetic. We deserve better in our elected officials.

re:"Meanwhile - Same gang of 5 who persecuted van der Linde are running RWSA. Get it?"

No I don't get it. Last I checked, Van Der Linde had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations. He wasn't being 'persecuted' so much as 'prosecuted' for his repeated violations. If he wasn't in the wrong I doubt he would have forked over so much money.

So that's a pretty big fact undercutting whatever you're getting at, which, like the article, you don't actually just come right out and say.

Why not simply state the facts as you know them? If you think public official X is corrupt for reason Y, state the facts supporting your opinion. All I get when I read the article is "Hawes Spencer supports dredging and thinks the people opposed to dredging are bad". I am certainly unconvinced that his opinion is correct based on this article.

Excellent article … however I believe that one important point was missed. CSWP agrees that Rivanna is badly managing the Moormans River (along with most of its other water resources). Furthermore, there is nothing to prevent Rivanna from improving the stream flows in the Moormans today. In fact, the DEQ permit requires Rivanna to install improved flow controls on the Moormans by February of 2010 – which they have not done. That is a violation of the permit (1). Our group has been pushing Rivanna to install stream gauges and improved flow controls for several years. However the ‘paid environmentalist” groups identified in this article have been silent on this issue. Why is this? It appears to me that for the mega dam and pipeline proponents, the Moormans is more useful in its current sorry state so that they can greenwash this boondoggle. Improve the Moormans and the last justification for their expensive new waterworks project falls away.

The Moormans River is the cleanest source of water in our system, and we take very little of it for drinking purposes – about 15 percent of the natural flow. This is less than the figure cited by TNC’s own Brian Richter for maintaining the river in a “high level of health” (2).

The problem is that Rivanna takes this 15 percent of flow in about the most ignorant way possible for the river. During times of abundant rainfall (which is most of the year) the water level of Sugar Hollow reservoir spills over the dam and the river receives close to the natural flow. However, during a drought, when the water falls below the level of the dam, Rivanna only releases a steady 1 million gallons a day, every day, regardless of the natural flow above the reservoir. If there is big storm event that puts tens of millions of gallons into the Upper Moormans, the portion below the dam only sees a million gallons per day – much less than it should get. Conversely, during long dry periods, where the Upper Moormans is naturally dry for weeks, Rivanna still releases a million gallons a day – much more than the river would naturally get.

The solution to this problem should be fairly obvious: Install stream flow gauges on the Upper Moormans, above the dam, so we know what the true natural flow is, and install improved flow controls below the dam in order to more closely mimic the natural flow. The solution is neither expensive or complicated, and was supposed to have been put into place 18 months ago, but it hasn’t happened. If “saving the Moormans” is such a priority for Rivanna and all of these so-called environmentalists, then what’s the holdup?

Adding to the irony here, Rivanna has no intention of ever putting gauges on the upper Moormans river – even if they are successful in getting the public to fund their megadam and pipeline. Instead, their plan to ‘save’ the Moormans relies on determining “natural” flow by using an existing gauge on the Meechums river – not the Moormans. This is fundamentally flawed, because the two are very different rivers. The Moormans is a high mountain stream, very flashy when it rains and can be dry for months when it doesnt rain. The Meechums in contrast is more of a valley river and has steadier flows, fed by springs and groundwater, not just rain - last summer when the natural Moormans was bone dry, the Meechums had steady flow. Furthermore, the Meechums gauge that Rivanna wants to use to determine the ‘natural’ flow of the Moormans is located miles downstream, in completely different terrain. So rather than "saving" the Moormans, the Rivanna scheme turns it into a completely different river.

I continue to believe (and recent studies have confirmed) that the most responsible way to provide for the future water supply for our community is to adequately maintain the abundant resources that we have. The solution to years of Moormans, SFRR and RMR mismanagement by Rivanna is not to throw more money at Rivanna so that they can build another reservoir to neglect and mismanage for the next 50 years.

I am saddened that so many of my environmentalist friends in this community could be hoodwinked by Rivanna’s greenwashing, while allowing such an easily addressable problem to continue for so long. Although reading about the moneyed influences in this article, I cant help but be reminded of the Upton Sinclair quote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" For those of us (ie most of the community) who are not part of the Rivanna gravy train, sustainable management of our existing resources is the obvious choice.

(1) From page 14 of the DEQ permit, issues Feb 11, 2008: “the Flow Measurement Design Plan and Operations Manual will include a schedule for the installation of equipment capable of releasing water to satisfy [the improved streamflow] requirement and a description of the equipment. In no case shall the necessary equipment be installed later than two years after permit issuance.”

(2) In March of 2010, Brian Richter (director of TNC's Global Freshwater Program) gave a talk about the Rivanna scheme at the CCDC space on the mall. I asked him how much water we could withdraw from the Moormans and still maintain healthy flows (in his book he suggest that healthy river flows could be maintained with withdrawals as high as 50 percent). His response was: "There is no consensus rule of thumb about how much water can be taken from rivers around the world and maintain their health – it varies greatly. But we’re gravitating towards a figure of something around plus or minus 20 percent. If you really want to maintain the river in a high level of health, then you need to be within plus or minus 20 percent of the natural condition."

Unfortunately, this article missed one of the biggest issues in this matter, in my opinion. That is that Albemarle County has only contributed 2MGD (million gallons per day) worth of infrastructure to the RWSA. They were supposed to build Buck Mt. Reservoir to supply their share and for a variety of reason never did. Now they find themselves pursuing development and population growth that are almost entirely dependent on water from City owned resources. If the RWSA was disbanded tomorrow (a great idea in my opinion) any projects going forward in the County would require City approval to tap that water. By building a massive new reservoir jointly, and abandoning existing contributors like Sugar Hollow and SFRR, the County would have water supply parity with the City and any talk of disbanding RWSA would be moot.

They wouldn't use it to cause a drought. You can trust the government.

What a cabal --cutting edge they say --more like a bad science experiment with a huge pricetag, paid by taxpayers. Thanks Mr. Lynch for exposing this scheme along with the great investigative reporting by Mr. Spencer.

The documents at the end of your article show that this scheme has been a long time in the making, and has made countless environmentalists, their organizations, their friends in the consulting industry, lawyers and who knows who else, rich off ratepayer dollars.

I would love to see a compilation of the total amount ratepayers have handed over to those backing this Nature Conservancy generated plan including- environmental groups involved in mitigation ( that would mean the Nature Conservancy itself which apparently - according to this article- made money off their association with the Army Corp for the Meadowcreek Restoration Project.

"TNC is committed to developing in-stream flow prescriptions in the South Rivanna watershed as part of a larger TNC Rivanna Conservation Plan. The prescriptions will be developed using an "adaptive management" approach TNC has developed. This approach has been used on the Savannah River and in the Green River in Kentucky, but due to its limited application at this point, it may be appropriate to refer to this approach as "innovative" or "cutting-edge."
TNC has secured some funding from private contributions and plans additional fund raising to secure funds to complete Phases 1 and 2. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in September 2004 with recorrimendations on preliminary flow prescriptions, within a probable margin of +/- 20% of the eventual conclusions from Phase 2. TNC is using Gannett Fleming model data provided by RWSA for base information in developing the flow prescriptions."

this is from the above document you provided titled: 2004 Conservancy Funding Begins

First I would like to say that, this title should be the name of your rag, because it's usually full of mistakes. Secondly what does the cover imagery have to do with the story? Nothing.

Anyone know a district attorney who is NOT be owned the The Nature Conservancy? (They seem to have infiltrated much of the Charlottesville and Albemarle governments, including city councilors Szakos, Huja and Brown. I'm sure they haven't overlooked the prosecutors office.)

We can't keep quoting Thomas Jefferson while we allow this kind of government fraud to exist.

It's time to clean house. Let's roll.

I do wish we had an unbiased lawyer to examine Mr. Thomas L. Frederick's statements and writings in light of the post by Quinn above.

I have started to read thru the documents at the end of this article and I believe Mr. Frederick wouldn't stand a chance if he were judged on the state criteria for a professional engineer.

RSWA = incompetence at best and more likely crooks. get rid of the rswa. if you can't see the pattern, you're not looking. complaining about the slant of the article is ridiculous, considering the facts. if there is hyperbole, perhaps its because its incredible that we have let this go this far and that three city councilors actually voted for this cr@#$p. reporters need not revoke membership in civil society because they write about it. whenever reporters act upset that powerful people are stealing with both hands, the clowns always jump up to deride their "bias." its ok with me to be biased against crooks, especially those who are abusing positions of responsibility and public trust. throw the bums out.

Help needed --names of good lawyers that deal with ethics in our community; not associated with McGuireWoods, Bill Ellis, or the Nature Conservancy.

re:"powerful people are stealing with both hands"

Which ones, specifically. Please be specific with your allegation. If you are accusing someone of fraud, theft, larceny, whatever, please be specific about who committed which crime.

While you're at it, please your real name and address on the written accusation.

My point about the slant of the article is that it's hard to separate the facts you allege (please see the earlier paragraph) and the hyperbole in the article.

All you have to do is fill out a police report. Not that hard to do. If some one is stealing something, please spell it out for us dullards that aren't seeing it.

And what organization could we complain to about Mr. Frederick's clear misuse of the information, as I see it; to prevent dredging the reservoir as the alternative plan.

The more I read form the docs above, the more convinced I am that he is not in compliance with state regulations.

There is also enough convincing evidence of his misuse of his position at the link under Richard Lloyd for me to be willing to contribute to an effort to get a ruling on this, but where ?

Please let me know if someone is willing to make a challenge, and if money needs to be contributed for this effort.

@ meanwhile please read the docs, as I am now, both below the article, and under the link provided by Richard LLoyd for supporting evidence to the narrative of this story.

this is interesting. Looks like 5 out of 6 environmental orgnaizations support the approved plan and oppose dredging. That's >80% of the orgs. I think we can say a landslide of environmental groups support the plan! And the hook is trying to smear, intimidate, and bully them and their people. Their press conference must have gotten in someone's craw!

"My point about the slant of the article is that it's hard to separate the facts you allege (please see the earlier paragraph) and the hyperbole in the article."

So 'meanwhile...',
Please enlighten us stupid people. What in the article is not correct? Do you really know the "true story" or just ruffling feathers? Which section(s) did Spencer take liberties with?

I am all ears. Thanks.

Having spent the last 4 hours reading original documents that relate to this story I realize that a local citizen group of researchers, having diverse backgrounds ( including a lawyer ), is needed to investigate the role that the director of RWSA. Mr. Thomas L. Frederick has played in this huge expenditure of local money, and what appears to be misinformation and collaboration with groups that have a clear conflict of interest.

Are there any local citizens interested in such an endeavor ?

I am sure that being a small town this would be difficult for some business people to engage in, but perhaps another local citizen group could spear head this and this could be a sub group. The logical group would be the CSWP and I will approach them about forming this group.

I found this contact info on their website. Contact them if you are interested in joining a team with me to research the ethical issues surrounding Mr. Frederick's performance.

cvillewater@gmail.com

Congratulations on a well-researched, brilliant, brave article. Shocking, really. We need City Councilors willing to stand up to these folks. That would be Dede Smith, Colette Blount, and Brevy Cannon.

re:"What in the article is not correct?"

A commenter alleges a crime has been committed. I ask him to be specific about who did what. You ask me me to disprove the article as a result of this.

Huh?

What I actually said was that the person alleging facts (that powerful people were stealing) should be specific about who did what. Should be pretty simple.

Who stole what from whom?

I'm not alleging a crime has been committed so why should I have to disprove the article?

@ "meanwhile..... ", Wouldn't you agree that "please [use?] your real name and address" ought be on the top ten list of things to never write in an anonymous comment?

Mr. Frederick's overstepping of his job description as described by the above post by Quinn seems more and more in question.

Consider this, and recently Mr. Frederick had another pronouncement from Hydrologics highlighted in one of Mr. Wheeler's articles that I have heard Mr. Lynch question on the radio.

To see the entire e-mail chain click on the pdf above titled
2007 FrederickSchuyler agree not to touch Beaver Creek

-----Original Message----­ From: Tom Frederick [maiJto:tfrederick@rivanna.org] Sent: Tuesday, March 20,20074:33 PM To: Hess, Amanda J.; Keno, Aaron D.; 'Jennifer Whitaker' Cc: Bill Ellis. Subject: RE: update

· RE:update
Page3of4

I finally caught up with Ridge Schuyler a few moments ago. Interestingly, Ridge volunteered to me, before I said anything about Beaver Creek, that he immediately told Hydrologics to "drop" Beaver Creek when Hydrologics took that proposal to him, because Ridge also knew that was a political problem.

This is where I believe he has gone wrong. RWSA is a public authority, using public money, and Mr. Frederick has behaved, as far as I can tell from these pdf's, like the CEO of a private company.

This is part of the e-mail at the pdf above titled "Frederick if this were a private business " This is worth reading in it's entirety. It is truly disturbing, and puts the other RWSA board members in a new light. No wonder Mr. Gaffney, chairman of the board of the RWSA, praised Mr. Frederick so profusely in giving him a recent raise of salary. ( Rob Schilling did an excellent job discussing this today in hour one )

http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5401331

taken from above e-mails

-----Original Message----- From: Tom Frederick To: O'Connell, Gary; mike@gaffneyhomes.com ; gfern@serviceauthority.org ; Mueller, Judy; btucker@albemarle.org Sent: Tue Mar 11 15:22:382008 Subject: RE: Dredging

"...... As an example, we avoided the expense of sediment sampling in 2004 and the range of cost estimates is based on assumptions. We are now being criticized by "concerned citizens", and one of the big arguments I keep hearing is that in their opinion we did not "investigate dredging thoroughly enough".
If this were a private business answering to stockholders, we already have more than enough information to say "no" to further study. But of course we are not. My hunch is that if we decide on another study, with public input, there is going to be a lot of pressure to answer questions that will require the type of study I outlined below. Just food for thought - it could be easier to just say no to the study up front than to say yes and then limit the scope in a way that doesn't answer many of the their questions."

What a sordid tale. Paired with the bypass fiasco, it seems local government has lost its ethical moorings.

Maybe we could conduct our research online. Has anyone else reading the Lloyd material or the Pdf's at the end of the article found examples of Mr. Frederick's breech of his professional ethics as a P.E. ?

The reference to Thomas Jefferson as our first local dredger is fascinating, and inspired me to search through the papers of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello for the direct quote that led to his pride in this endeavor.

This can be found on pg 22 of the "Papers of Thomas Jefferson" volume 32, edited by Barbara Oberg .

September 2, 1800

" I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is better for my having lived at all ? I do not know that it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following things, but they would have been done by others , some of them perhaps a little better."

In listing his accomplishments his work clearing the Rivanna River is #1 and #2 is the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps that can do spirit, that inspired Jefferson, will eventually find it's way into the hearts and minds of our local politicians and the silt filled Rivanna Reservoir will be free at last- free at last - to serve the community's thirst for water.

Hasn't Hawes already written this article about 10 times? Really? More? ...and the personal attacks? I don't get it.

What I find most disturbing about this whole matter is that whenever new information comes in that challenges the Nature Conservancy plan, the Nature Conservancy cabal and Tom Frederick simply change the facts. As the price of their plan escalated, so, magically, did their estimates of the cost of dredging, from $40 million to $145 million to $220 million. When new studies showed that these estimates were ridiculously high, new “facts” emerged: “Oh, well, you see, we can’t dredge because the silt has dangerous chemicals in it and there is no place to store it.” When studies showed that the silt is perfectly safe and that there is an agricultural market for it, suddenly the “fact” emerged that the dam at Ragged Mountain is unsafe and needs to be replaced. “Yeah, that’s the ticket.” Black and Veatch then found that the dam is perfectly sound. “Well then,” they said, “Dredging won’t supply enough water for the community.” When the new demand analysis confirmed that we need much less water than originally estimated, and that dredging alone will supply more than enough water for at least 40 years, their next move was jaw-dropping: “Psych! Dredging actually will supply less water than we said it would a week ago.”

And when they have no new facts to invent, they simply repeat things that we already know to be false (such as Kay Slaughter’s recent letter to the Daily Progress in which she claimed that the dam at Ragged Mountain is unsafe).

What is really depressing is that media outlets like the Daily Progress report these new “facts” uncritically. Kudos to Hawes for calling it like it is.

You said it, City Dweller..... Same ol' same ol'... He'll keep writing it too. Over and over again. Same old unedited drivel.

We get it, Hawes. Tom Frederick is a BAAAAAD MAAAAAN!!!!

Reminds me of the whole RWSA vs. Van Der Linde saga, when this same cast of characters decried how TERRIBLE it was that the RWSA was going after Van Der Linde for his repeated violations. 'What a waste of tax payer dollars!' these same exact people wailed. Because Van Der Linde (which is where my waste goes, btw) had a superior waste processing system, these people believed the RWSA must be out to get him and that he should be allowed to flout regulations.

Then Van Der Linde paid up. Over a half million dollars in fines, I believe? Turns out the RWSA recouped upwards of a million of taxpayer dollars.

Where were the kudos from these people claiming to be warriors for the taxpayer/ratepayer? Where was the article in the Hook pointing out how it was wrong the whole time? Instead, the hook literally tried to spin Van Der Linde's payment as some sort of victory. As if settling out of court for $600,000 is exactly what any business man would want to do on a sunny day.

As a result of that spectacle, which I followed quite closely, these same people have no credibility when it comes to the RWSA. They are completely biased. It doesn't matter what the facts are, they already have their opinions and the fact that they've lost on this issue only enrages them.

The thing is, "journalists" are supposed to have some intellectual honesty.

Here's a challenge for you, Meanwhile: Can you find one major claim made by Hawes or the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan that has been proven wrong by an independent study? (Tom Frederick's spinning doesn't count.) Time after time, independent studies have confirmed what they have said and have disconfirmed claims made by the Nature Conservancy cabal. This includes the cost of dredging, the condition of the Ragged Mountain dam, the amount of water we will need, and on and on. It is mysterious to me why anyone continues to believe their ridiculous claims.

RICO is the Organized Crime and Racketing law. I was created to take on the MAFIA. RWSA’s gang of 5 used it against Peter van der Linde witch branded him a Gangster. Mr. van der Linde was an entrepreneur and a RICO charge must have decimated his ability to finance anything including his legal bills. The suit was for $20,000,000 and RICO allows for triple damages or $60,000,000. I have heard estimates of $300,000 to $500,000 for Mr. vam der Linde’s side alone and more was spent by RSWA.
Most of all a citizen with a good idea and the ability to act on it was persecuted and personally attacked by our governmental employees and elected officials.
Sure he paid about $500,000 over the next 10 or so years. But a single individual paying in an organized crime suit does not abolish organized crime, unless the charge is bogus in the first place. And some how that money was all it took for Mr. van der Linde to receive huge new contracts from his accusers. WOW now who is the criminal. Pay us and you get the contract.
Don’t you think this community deserves answers? Why do we allow criminal behavior? Why do we allow the exact same gang of 5 to run RWSA? Why do we allow them in government period.

Fear and Trembling,

Can I provide an independent study that disproves the claims? So if I can't disprove the claims they have to be accepted as fact? I didn't know that Hawes Spencer could say, "John Doe is an axe murderer" and then it's my responsibility to disprove the allegation when I question whether the allegation is true. Thanks for setting me straight.....

My point is that there are a series of fact detailed in the article that, to me, don't add up to much, but have been dressed up with misleading language, assertions, opinions, assumptions and innuendo to make it look like something devious and awful is going on.

Why don't people state, straight up, exactly who they think is corrupt and why they think this? Where is the quid pro quo? Where are the crimes, exactly?

All the smearing and innuendo is hard to disprove. Concrete accusations are not. If the case is so cut and dry, make the case. People are claiming there is a crime here. What is it and who is the perpetrator. Don't tell me it's my responsibility to prove someone innocent. It doesn't work that way in this country.

from Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Journalism )

"Yellow journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.[1] Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.[1] By extension "Yellow Journalism" is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.
Campbell (2001) defines Yellow Press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion. The term was extensively used to describe certain major New York City newspapers about 1900 as they battled for circulation.
Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:[2]
scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

@ meanwhile I suggest you read the original documents if you are doubting this story.

Here is another disturbing e-mail. Why would Mr. Frederick worry about the timing of an election, as mentioned here ? I am becoming suspicious the the upcoming election in the City may again be entering into information he is releasing. This is another instance I believe he is acting politically and not professionally.

From: Sent: To: Cc: SUbject: RE: The big Question

Tom Frederick [tfrederick@rivanna.org] Friday, April 14, 20068:54 AM 'Mueller, Judy' 'O'Connell, Gary'; Gary Fern; Michael Gaffney; Robert W. Tucker Jr.; Lonnie Wood

Then there is the new SFRR to RMR pipeline itself.

We've modeled the option of constructing the pipeline between 2011 and 2013, and the option of waiting until 2016 to 2018. If we wait until 2016 (10 years from now) to start constructing the pipeline but start in 2008 to build up cash reserves, the impact of the Community Water Supply project on wholesale rates is about 6.25% per year for FY 08, 09, and 10, then drops to around 5% per year for FY11, 12, and 13, then continues to increase beyond FY 13 but at smaller increments of less than 5% per year until about 2025.
If we advance the pipeline construction to 2011-13, the impact on rates are much more dramatic. The forecast for this scenario is a 10% increase in wholesale rates every year from FY 08 until FY 13, then around 8% per year in 2014 and 2015. Under this scenario, the rates are high enough by 2015 to sustain the debt service for Community Water Supply through the entire planning period. In other words, to build the pipeline in 2011 requires that we "front" all the rate increases for community water supply in the first 10 years of the 50 year plan.

I DO NOT PLAN TO GET INTO THIS DISCUSSION NEXT TUESDAY, which is why you don't see any of this in the presentation. First, the timing is bad for a deep discussion of this just before an election. Second, I want to discuss the implications of these two scenarios with board members 2 on 2 so we are together on how we want to present this information to the pUblic. From a financial standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to slowly build up cash reserves for the pipeline, which in itself is nearly one-third the cost of the entire 50-year plan. But I anticipate there will be some loud voices in this community that will call for the pipeline to be built almost immediately.

I know you already know this, but I like to remind everyone with whom I share rate forecast analysis results that the forecast is only as good as the forecasting assumptions, and no one has a perfect crystal ball. In our model we are using 3% per year for inflation, 6% per annum for interest rate on revenue bonds, 4% per annum for interest earned on investment of reserves, 30-year equal annual P&I on debt service for new bonds, and assuming (except for inflation) that Gannett Fleming's estimates hold. Also, the forecasted increases in wholesale rate above are ONLY for the water supply improvements and do not take into account further increases that might be needed for increased operating costs or other capital projects. Last, forecasting out 10 to 15 years is very difficult at best. If the cost of construction keeps escalating like we've seen lately or oil spirals out-of control again, these assumptions won't hold. Then again, if that were to happen, it would affect everything else government does as well.

The above excerpt is from the document below this article titled:
2006 Frederick Avoids Election

Why does the Daily Progress continue to let Brian Wheeler masquerade as a journalist ? What is their skin in this game ?

Loved the comparison of our dredging with the dredging of the Panama Canal. Worth repeating: it would cost more to dredge our reservoir than the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal! That's crazy. And to think when our dredging was done we wouldn't even be able to avoid the long dangerous journey around Cape Horn! We wouldn't even be able to get to Waynesboro!

The documents are undeniably illuminating and disturbing. The facts are all there in black and white. Facts, not supposition or opinion.

Regarding the last document mentioned, Mr Frederick won't be able to avoid discussion during this year's election. I find it notable that some of the candidates get visibly angry when the water supply issue is brought up. The angrier they get, the more suspicious I get.

The "Norris Plan" was the best compromise that's been put forth thus far, and it was a happy day for many in the city when Council came together to vote for it unanimously. Even people who were vehemently anti-dam agreed that they could live with this plan. Thus, it's sad that three of the councilors chose to change their minds at the last minute and vote against it. Some of the backroom dealing and arm-twisting that went on at that time was shameful. I hope that on day, the full story behind what happened will come out.

It's possible to be bold and forward-thinking, but still do right by the citizens. Council exemplified that during their vote that evening. In this upcoming election, many of us in the community will be casting our votes for candidates who will put the interests of the citizens first, rather than act as lackeys for the RWSA, Nature Conservancy, etc.

@Citizen Party-- every time you post, I hear Kathy Galvin's finger- wagging condescending tone. Try harder. And to any of you who have not heard her interview on Coy Barefoot's show yet, please do so. I would vote for anyone, literally ANY ONE, over her.

We do appreciate all the help we can get to continue to make sure that our community water plan is based on the most factual information available. And that those elected to vote on this plan represent their citizens and not special interests.

We can be contacted at the e-mail address posted above

cvillewater@gmail.com

I'm sick of Brian Wheeler at the Daily Progress, and our local TV stations swallowing the bogus numbers they're being fed by RWSA without asking any questions. We're lucky to have a few real journalists doing their job. We owe a debt of gratitude to Coy Barefoot, Rob Schilling and the Hook .

Thanks to the Hook I now understand what Wheeler is up to.
Not reading his stories anymore, might as well be getting Nature Conservancy press releases.

Rick and Jane on the morning show are also asking questions. Thanks guys --our local government needs oversight .

SLily, you say " Mr Frederick won't be able to avoid discussion during this year's election. "

But is what he is saying truthful or meant to influence the election for his own purposes ? We need to see documentation of any information he is spreading to promote the dam and discourage the public from dredging.

In light of all of this information about RWSA's past, I really have to wonder how truthful they have been about their plans for a new sewage pumping plant in Riverview Park. Is that really necessary? Where is an independent analysis of the facts that they claim justify spending $40 million to rebuild a facility that is only a few years old destroying a city park and ruining the lives of many citizens in the process? Are there better alternatives for the long run, like encouraging conservation among citizens and patching holes within the system that haven't even been explored due to the same mindset that paying huge fees to consultants and even higher costs for construction and operation is the only way?

Mr. Frederick's empire is growing very large at our expense. If he gets his way, the costs of the dam, the new sewage treatment plant, and the unknown cost of acquiring right-of-way, laying, and forever pumping water uphill through a pipeline are going to be quite a blow to the local rate payers. Who benefits from all of this other than Frederick (see his recent raise) and maybe a handful of developers. What about those of us who are asked to pay for it all?

NancyDrew, I completely agree.

CC, there are many comparisons, obvious to all, that can be drawn between the way the RWSA has conducted itself on both these issues (dam and sewage pumping) and many more. It's not a pretty picture, but I have to wonder how many voters will choose to stick their heads in the sand when election time rolls around.

Why aren't the elected officials providing protection for the ratepayers ?
It looks like this agency has a blank check.

meanwhile..are you related to someone on the RSWA board?
what i assert is that their incompetence is certain, their criminality speculative. but their doublespeak and very considered disregard for the facts and their apparently ethically questionable means of attacking/undermining opponents and/or opposing views, as well as the incredible amount of money they have spent with no result, leaves an impression of deep stupidity at best. whenever someone
who is very powerful acts like a deeply stupid person (or illogically "ideological"), i smell a rat. sorry for the cynicism, but being stupid and being incapable of making logical decisions is not how most people get into those positions of power. regardless of their criminal culpability, the rswa has mismanaged everything they've ever had a chance to manage, in my 25 years of paying attention. and, perhaps coincidentally, they have managed to dispense huge amounts of our money via not very transparent processes while doing it. if you have an example of something they've done well, it would be news to me. that alone is grounds to get rid of them. we don't need them, they don't help our region be better, and they are very difficult to hold accountable for their actions. they are a layer we don't need. dump the rswa.

Power corrupts...oldest story known to mankind. The Nature Conservancy isn't what it used to be. Soon as you start making deals, your ideals suffer, and eventually become almost irrelevant. Sad.
The pipeline between the two reservoirs is absurd. Can't believe anyone is going for that. Just like the one they wanted to build from Scottsville, up along route 20. Is there any common sense left in the world?
p.s. why doesn't RWSA pay down their debt with all of our millions they are holding? What would that save per month? They can easily borrow again when they need to. Why are they calling it a war chest, when they have an even bigger war debt? Tom Fredericks seems like an awful nice guy every time I hear him speak, but I don't understand how they are running things over there.

The more I read the more convinced I am that the RWSA board operated completely out of sight of governmental control, and was taken over by their cozy relationship with special interests, that did not represent the rate payers.

I am not sure how you can undue this without disbanding this organization and returning the assets to the parties that own them, and then setting up a board the is more representative of ratepayer interests.

Rather than working out a cost share for the new water plan, I believe the city, who owns most of these resources, should take control and then work out a plan that is more accountable to their citizens. The county has ample water resources as well, and they should take responsibility for their growth needs with resources that they control. Is Beaver Creek that serves Crozet a county resource, and why doesn't the county use Buck Creek also owned by RWSA.

It seems they are trying to use the most expensive, least desirable sources of water, rather than the most affordable, best sources.

This does not appear to be a sensible water supply plan by any measure.

NancyDrew , I wouldn't say that RWSA operates out of sight. It's more like it gets its way by collaborating with people in power willing to sell out city interests.

David Brown seems to be pretty tight with Frederick considering his involvement in the Van der Linde episode, his behind the scenes dealings with the pumping station http://www.c-ville.com/Article/Government/Stench_rises_in_Woolen_Mills and his support of the expensive and unnecessary dam is of course also well known. Of course no oversight is going to come from him.

The way to see that oversight finally comes is to go to the upcoming Democratic primary and to make sure that no more David Browns are put in positions where they can do any harm. I'm afraid Huja, Galvin, McIntosh, and Beyer are unwilling to take on RWSA and would just be giving us more of the same.

I meant out of sight because reading the above e-mails caused me to think that most of the decisions were made, not at board meetings which are public, but in private communications among board members.

Spencer should be commended for digging in to the primary documents of this situation and following the money. Whether one agrees with his ultimate conclusions or not, we all certainly are more well-informed about the people and connections behind our water supply. Thank you.

The questions about Charlottesville Tomorrow's connections to the Conservancy and the Progress remind me a recent report from Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism, titled "Nonprofit journalism doesn't mean ideology free:" http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/07/pew-nonprofit-journalism-doesnt-mean-id... I don't think this means that CT's contribution of more recordings and analysis of government meetings (that most of us don't even realize are happening) isn't useful or important. But it's a reminder -- for me -- that the line between journalism and advocacy should be more clearly stated.

To promote transparency, a word I have often heard at City Council meetings, I would like the Mayor of Charlottesville to ask each speaker on the water plan to state, before making their comments, if they or the organization they work for are receiving any compensation from the Nature Conservancy. My bet is that if you go back and look at who has supported the dam plan in public, very few were not on the Nature Conservancy gravy train

In fairness to Mr. Frederick, please remember he does the bidding of the Board of Directors and is advised by the lawyer. The gang of 5 appears to be the core over and over again.

Environmental groups and organizations always go for the money. It's all about money. It's never about protecting the environment at the administrative level. Never. Money. Money. Money.

No wonder Jim Nix, co-chair of the Democratic Party, came to council week after week with Liz Palmer, to applaud the dam/pipeline plan; even after all 5 councilors voted to support the Norris Pan - to repair the dam we have instead of building a new one, and to dredge. I'll bet he had something to do with Ms Szakos, whose campaign he chaired, changing her vote to the Nature Conservancy dam/pipeline Plan. I don't begrudge the Nature Conservancy trying to push their Nestle Water supported river restoration project, but I do object to those connected with them not making that known at Council, especially as co-chair of the Party.

Bird Hike by of volunteer/member JIM NIX
"I have been a volunteer at the Conservancy’s office in Charlottesville since I retired three years ago. Most of my work has been in the office ...."

[PDF]
Volunteer Newsletter SUMMER 2010.pub - The Nature Conservancy

Here's another public voice at council for the dam/ pipeline plan . Looks like she is on the Nature Conservancy gravy train as well.
The Executive Director of the Rivanna River Basin Commission is Leslie Middleton

The Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC) ....The Nature Conservancy (TNC) raised approximately $400,000 from private donors expressly for launching the Commission

http://www.rivannariverbasin.org/staff.php#

Looks like the Sierra Club is the only non-funded Nature Conservancy group in town, and they support restorative dredging of the Reservoir for water supply.

Unless the voters, who are upset by these conflicts of interest, get out and vote on August 20th in the Democratic Primary, the Jim Nix's of Charlottesville will continue to dominate City Council. This is a chance for a change. Listen to this speech and ask yourself - is it time for a change in this City ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe751kMBwms

Vote for change

Vote at Burley Middle School from 9am - 7pm

Remember the South Fork Rivanna River Task Force. Sally Thomas was chair. She , as repersentavive of The League of Women Voters, committed about 30 individual violations of FOIA.

http://foiacouncil.dls.virginia.gov/ops/09/AO_03_09.htm

The South Fork Rivanna River Task Force was another attempt to stop dredging .

http://www.readthehook.com/74973/stacked-deck-dredge-foes-outnumber-fans...

I have friends in the League and they are appalled by the conflicts of interest of those who have taken over the leadership of the League on this issue. I hope those that are still members will speak out, but many have just quit.

This burns me up, just reread this:

Monday Jul 28th, 2008
and in print issue #0731 dated Thursday Jul 31st, 2008

"A month after promising to quickly seek dredging proposals, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority revealed today that it's letting the dredging process wait for guidance from a task force led by an adamant dredging opponent.'

2008 they were ready to get the dredging RFP on the street and wham --stopped by this task force.

Spencer followed every ugly twist and turn, but the officials weren't listening and some were actively working to stop the RFP from being issued .

I have to admit there is so much moneyed power behind the Nature Conservancy plan that I am doubtful the ratepayers can stop it --all they can do is watch their rates go up up and away .....

http://www.readthehook.com/74987/frederick-rwsa-agrees-delay-dredge-study

Its the transfer of control and rape of city assets that bothers me the most.

From the Charlottesville City Code

Sec. 28. - Sale of public utilities; approval by voters.

The rights of the city in its gas, water and electric works, and sewer plant, now owned, or hereafter acquired, shall not be sold even after such action of the council as is prescribed by Code of Virginia of 1919, [4] section 3016, until and except such sale shall have been approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the city, voting on the question at a special election ordered by the council and subject in other respects to the provisions of section 24 [27] of this Charter applicable to a special election.

I forgot this quote captured in an article from Charlottesville Tomorrow

“We’ve worked through drafts on probably 15 issues in a fairly complicated property use agreement, and most of those items are agreed to,” O’Connell added. “The biggest question is whether there will be support on City Council to move the whole [water plan] forward and stand up and vote for that, and hopefully that’s where we will be in September.”

I haven't heard one good reason in these comments to go forward with the new earthen dam plan, if you are for it I would like to know why.

I don't understand how building the big new dam at Ragged Mt. Is tantamount to selling the reservoir there. Is it because the County will pay for the majority of the dam costs, therefore, due to their paying for the capital "improvements" they would own the reservoir? what about south fork reservoir? I guess if we don't dredge, the city loses that asset just because it's gone, but not due to sale, correct? If City Council defacto sells the reservoir against city code, who has to be sued to stop it? thanks!

Thank You
The city ownes the Ragged Mountain Reservoir outright. To build the big new dam, the City must sell the land under it and the land under the expanded reservoir to RWSA. Currently it is leased and the lease is up in 2012. Without that sale RWSA would be building upon City property. This sale of UTILITY assets requires a referendum of the people of Charlottesville no matter what City Council decides. see above

Staggering. Thank you, Mr. Lloyd.

Staggering. Thank you, Mr. Lloyd.

If a referendum is required to sell the land at Ragged Mountain, why hasn't a vote been scheduled, and why is the deal being made behind closed doors by Mr. Jones and Ms. Mueller on the city side, and Mr. O'Connell ( who now represents the county service authority ) and Mr. Davis, county executive, on the county side ?

If Mr. Lloyd's description of this situation is correct:

1) do the City officials know they are posed to break the law?

2) what are the possible penalties (and on whom) for a possible trangression?

3) what recourse do citizens (or their organizations) have?

And another question:

4) Will "Charlottesville Tomorrow" report this prospective illegality?

I don't begrudge wealthy people wanting to live on their piece of paradise with a house on a hill, but why should we, the working folks of the city have to subsidize it, and give up our natural area at Ragged Mt. ?

With all the tax credits, federal,state, and local --these folks are getting a sweet deal and what are we getting --higher taxes, and higher water and sewer rates.

All we ask is that you pay your fair share.

Who, sitting on the board that sets water and sewer rates in the county actually pays a water bill, and how about all these folks speaking up for the Nature Conservancy Plan how many of them have wells and wouldn't pay a dime for their plan.

I wonder as a matter of law: if you are in area served by the RWSA, do you need to oblige yourself of their services? If you do decide to, is there an "out" where you can dig a new well, restore service from the old/decommissioned one, etc.?

The situation is way out of control, like the bypass suddenly. We haave a tiny handful of connected people working the system trying to make enormous expenditures and huge alterations to our community. If the system is to remain "by the people, for the people etc." the candidates need to make clear statements on the issues and we have to vote and pay attention.

The key is all our citizens. Not just the 1300 super dems who went to the firehouse primary last. Many more need to vote because the general election almost always elects the Dem slate.

The other 42,000 really have no vote the way its set up.

It is clear that the boards of RWSA and RSWA do not have a clue. They gave Frederick a raise for "exemplary" performance:.
http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/07/rwsa...

It’s the same people on RSWA and RWSA, The gang of 5 on both boards. Get it? They persecuted van der Line for dominating the trash. Their dastardly deeds are spelt out above.
Maybe there is another nefarious group within the community. Obviously someone attacked van der Linde again and severely damaged 32 big trucks. Maybe they are separate from the gang of 5, but isn’t it odd that these officials and lawyers sit mute on the situation. The Daily Progress took 4 days to report and then buried it in the paper. Big damage on a citizen and contractor and no response? FISHY

Isn't is telling that these articles generally fail to interview or quote anyone but opponents of the plan? Why is that Hawes? Why don't you publish balanced stories rather than slander and innuendo?

Drinker, the other side has a chance to present their case via Brian Wheeler all the time, how many front page Wheeler/Water stories have they run ?

And please give us one fact in this story that is not correct and also give us your reasons for supporting a plan that destroys tens of thousands of trees, fails to maintain South Fork Reservoir for our water supply plan, and costs ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We need to hear a reason to do this other than it benefits the Nature Conservancy.

I doubt the ratepayers will win out this time, the Nature Conservancy is too determined, too powerful, and has too many friends in this community. A sad state of affairs.

I'm sure Ridge Schuyler is a nice person, as are the other environmentalists and officials pushing the dam plan , but can't you see he is on a mission for this organization that, as Kevin Lynch has written, is not about improving the Moorman's, rather producing an international modal that they can export around the world ( according to this clip from Tom Frederick )

I found this under Mr. Lloyd's document link above. Thank you Mr. Lloyd you have convinced me

http://cvillewater.info/clips/chamber_TF_tnc_edit.wav

And what slander and innuendo do you find here, please be specific ?

Mr. Wheeler's technique of biased reporting is interesting. He does give the citizen's opposed to the water plan a chance to comment, but notice he highlights the opposition groups and gives them the headlines, as he did on the 19th and again on the 23rd in the Daily Progress, with the Press Conference sponsored by the Environmental Groups; touting their message - using a new number ( apparently pulled from a hat by Frederick ), to say dredging is expensive and wouldn't give us enough water.

And he never questions the information they are giving out, as Mr. Spencer does, he simply repeats it as if it is a fact.

And then Mr. Wheeler takes quotes from Norris and CSWP out of context to marginalize them. He is clever. It's the way he frames the issue, and what he highlights ,and leaves out that shows his bias.

If you listen to this podcast you will hear Norris say what he really meant about the new pipeline not what Mr. Wheeler wrote

http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5398315

All the other journalists are on to him, but only the Hook has the integrity to point out the connection to the Nature Conservancy. I respect them for that.

To be specific look at the articles he did in this one week and look at his latest article where he headlines a consultant for RWSA, propping up RWSA , but waits till the very end to tell the citizens that all this debt for the water plan will mean water will cost more and a lot more in the future.

This reminds me of George Lakoff's work, where clever lobbyists learn to frame the issue for their advantage. Looks to me like Mr. Wheeler has learned this lesson well .

"Financial consultants commend water authority as it prepares to borrow for infrastructure "

By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, July 29, 2011

July 19, 2011

"Environmental groups say new study shows dredging is insufficient for water plan "

July 23, 2011

"Environmental groups meet with DEQ to lobby for water plan"

In fact Mr. Wheeler may not even be writing his articles, Mr. Frederick may be.

I found these e-mails under the Lloyd link where Mr. Frederick claims " I'm doing the narrative for Brian "

see this doc linked under Mr. Lloyd's comment above to read the e-mail :

2009, July 13: FOIA_email Frederick writes narrative for Wheeler

Richard Lloyd has opened our eyes and in many ways. Thank you man! You get the citizen of the year award.

Ah Schucks guys. The real credit should go to Dede Smith and Hawes Spencer. These two are true investigative reporters. The web site above was put togeather and kept current by Dede. No commentary just the facts as written or said by others.

The story is told through the facts. But the story is about the people. This projects hatched by The Nature Consevancy is to be financed by the Authorities. The people will pay 100% of the cost but will never be allowed to vote on it. Had tax dollars been used, then the people could vote.

There is so much more of this story to be told. I beg Hawes for a follow-up. Oddly, I don't expect to see anything in The Daily Progress! Ms Shelborn told me I did not have the credentials to even have a letter published. READ THE HOOK

I would like to be a member of the League, but am concerned by what appears to be their support for the new dam plan written by the Nature Conservancy.

Could someone from the local League explain to me how they came to this conclusion. I notice the Sierra Club that originally supported the dam examined new information and now supports restorative dredging before building a new dam.

I have an application to join before me and one of the stated goals in the letter from the National League president says:

" Making Government More Accountable to Citizens: Americans are concerned that their government is more responsive to special interests with deep pockets than to ordinary citizens. ...Our American democracy depends on citizen involvement. If you and I don't take responsibility for setting the course of our country special interests will. "

Please explain why the League is supporting the Nature Conservancy Plan and not that advocated by the Sierra Club and a local citizen group. The Nature Conservancy certainly has deep pockets, and would seem to qualify as a special interest from the National League literature.

@ear and Trembling, although I agree with your conclusions, the boards of RWSA and RSWA are not exactly the same. Go to Rivanna.org and click on each each entity and examine "About Us." Read the names of the Directors and see for yourself. It will tell you who voted to give Frederick and $8,000 raise. Our city representation is pitiable.
All, try doing what I do, stop responding to anything comment written to get your goat, such as the comments written by Meanwhile... This is just entertain for that person.
@League of Woman Voters ? , don't waste your time joining. I started to join several years agoand I am so glad I did not. They hold dreadful candidates' forums that allow the candidates to pack the audience with their supporters and only ask questions designed to make their candidates' leading opponents look bad. They do this by not requiring all candidates to answer all questions posed. Shady group.

That's disappointing. We need a nonpartisan group to represent the citizens, as they say, and balance the power of deep pocketed organizations

As a young woman I am disappointed in the position of the League, and on Monday I intend to call the national office and inquire if the local chapter has violated the by-laws. I suggest if you are disturbed by this that you do the same.

League of Women Voters

Contact Us
Address:
1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000,
Washington, DC 20036-4508
Phone: 202-429-1965
Fax: 202-429-0854

Excellent idea. I will join you .

The Gang of 5

Frederick RWSA

Frederick RWSA RSWA
Gaffney RWSA RSWA
Boyd RWSA RSWA
David Brown RWSA RSWA
legal
Kurt Kruger RWSA RSWA

News Watcher,

Your comments on Brian Wheeler are on target. He is clearly not a journalist. He is a well-paid mouthpiece for well-connected, wealthy local citizens who deduct his paycheck from their personal income taxes.

Normally, I wouldn't consider discussing Mr. Wheeler's personal information in this argument, but your comments about his lack of journalistic integrity and the subsequent discussion of who really writes his articles make the following information relevant and justifiable to consider.

While most journalists in this community probably make $40,000 per year (and are forced to take 2-4 unpaid weeks of leave annually if they work for The Daily Progress due to the DP's financial situation), Mr. Wheeler was paid $106,682 in 2009 ($98,000 salary + $8,682 in deferred compensation). This information comes directly from the organization's 2007 IRS 990 filing, which is required annually for all non-profits.

You can view the entire filing on www.guidestar.org. Just sign up for a free account so you can log on to see the filings. Charlottesville Tomorrow's 2009 filing is at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/203/013/2007-203013557-0410a8... .

So, how does a man without any journalistic credentials or ability earn 250% of the income of a real journalist in this community? Further, why are the wealthy donors to Charlottesville Tomorrow allowed to receive tax deductions for their contributions that pay this non-market, inflated salary?

Consider that Charlottesville Tomorrow received only $232,765 in total donations for 2009. If you take Mr. Wheeler's $106,682 and add a modest 15% upcharge for FICA, FUTA and other taxes CT pays on his salary plus a minimal healthcare policy, his total cost is probably at least $122,684 annually. This is 52.7% of all the donations CT receives for the year. Add in office rent and other expenses and it quickly becomes apparent that CT is an partisan organization formed to pay the wages of Mr. Wheeler to carry water for CT backers.

This leads us to who are those backers? On the 2009 tax return, board members include: Michael Bills, Steve McLean, Rick Middleton, Paula Newcomb, Terry Sieg, Mac Thompson, Cathy Train, Tony Vanderwarker, Joseph Barnes, and Leigh Middleditch. Hardly a diverse group. Do any of them even live in the City of Charlottesville? Maybe Mr. Spencer can take a look at this question in a later article.

Finishing the thought on tax-related issues, one of the key descriptions justifying why Charlottesville Tomorrow has tax-deductible charitable status comes from its 2007 IRS 990 filing, which states that it provides "non-partisan news coverage, candidate forums and voter guides for local elections."

In actuality Charlottesville Tomorrow clearly does NOT provide non-partisan news coverage and it is my opinion that their charitable status is a sham that should be actionable by the IRS. Maybe we need to buy a mail-order subscription to THE HOOK for the IRS and ask Mr. Spencer to include the most recent issue as their first mailing.

Again, I find it unfortunate to bring personal issues to this debate, but Mr. Wheeler's are central to the basic themes of Mr. Spencer's article and this entire discussion is occurring in many ways due to Mr. Wheeler's own actions and making.

The entire water issue has been quarterbacked by a small group of private interests that have been proven over and over to use lies and deceit at every step of the way to get what they want. The Nature Conservancy is clearly behind most of it, but there are plenty of other pigs at the trough that need to be identified and exposed, hopefully in future articles.

@Fear & Trembling , you only mention one city councilor and nor BoS. Where is Ken Boyd, e.g. ?

Look again - he is there

@Legal Sparrow, I can agree with you that Mr. Wheeler has a clear conflict of interest, and shows bias in his water articles, but I cannot agree that he does not have ability. I read most articles written on the site and on other subjects they seem balanced and factual. Charlottesville Tomorrow also employs another writer Sean Tubbs, who does not cover water, but does a good job covering other community issues. It is unfortunate that Mr. Wheeler, for whatever reason, has decided to be a lobbyist and not a journalist on this one issue and perhaps because of Charlottesville Tomorrow's close ties to the author of the dam plan, they should cease reporting on this one issue. The Daily Progress would also be seen in a better light if they assigned the water articles to another reporter.

I'm a supporter of Charlottesville Tomorrow's mission and think they've been a superb addition to the local news scene. They are the best source to hear podcasts of meetings etc, and have helped with transparency issues in local govt. I know several of the people on the CT board mentioned above, and know them to be fine upstanding folks. However, I've found their reporting on RWSA issues in general, not just water, to be very biased. I also believe this is a board-driven decision, and that disappoints me.

Brian is a very good guy, as is Sean (though Sean isn't making nearly what Brian is!). Unfortunately though, Brian's chugged the kool-aid big time on this water thing. In his defense, I'll bet he's never read the FOIAed emails and documents that other reporters have. Stacks and stacks of information exist. Taken as a whole or even in part, it's very damning stuff.

Let's be realistic here. It's far easier for the average Cvillian to believe what appears to be an earnest bunch of environmental groups and wealthy Albemarle residents when they assure them that their plan is the best. Actually looking into the story behind the story, as some journalists, citizens and councilors have done, is a daunting task to say the least. It's hard work and it never ends.

The Free Enterprise Forum also backs the water plan. Looking at their board is a huge eye-opener, and offers the most illustrative and realistic view into what's really driving all of this.

I agree with much of what you say Sabbath, but unfortunately I think Mr. Wheeler is such a true believer, about the Nature Conservancy plan, that not only is he extremely well versed in the information, but that he actively participates to confuse the public into believing that dredging costs more than the dam/pipeline plan, and that it wouldn't provide enough water.

Being a true believer can sometimes make one unable to see the real facts of the matter.

@Legal Sparrow "While most journalists in this community probably make $40,000 per year"
Sadly, it's more like $25k.

As I tell my housemate, I don't read The Hook for hard news. That said, Hawes raises some interesting points; he is doing many of the things that good reporters do--presenting a wealth of information from a variety of places, uncovering things that others have missed, raising thought-provoking questions, and citing his sources.

If you want world-class hard-news reporting, maybe pick up The Times. But even there, you will find some bias. It ALWAYS exists in any reporting, because we are human.

Yes, some more editing here would have helped, but Hawes does a great public service here, I believe--and if he continues to write about this topic, well...maybe there's a reason for that.

Thank you for this information, Mr. Spencer.

In almost all major legal cases (product liability, defective X's etc) there are engineers hired by the defense and Plaintiff. They are both just as qualified and one will come in and say X was defective the other will say it was'nt. The Jury hears their qualifications the opinions of both and renders a judgment based on both. That is all it is an expert opinion. After the Court case you don't go after the engineer on the opposite side. So you want to find an attorney now to go after the engineers that didn't say what you wanted in this water issue?

It is disinformation that bothers me.

@ Court Square, the engineers who might testify in a legal case aren't likely to be paid to be giving testimony that may set them up for a much greater pay check as a result. Dam engineers who inflated the cost of dredging were in a position to benefit from a dam design contract to follow.

All the engineers in court cases are paid hundreds of $s and hour and several thousands in retainer fees. They are going to charge you by the hour for every second on the case. To sue an engineering firm over the water plan you would have to hire another engineering firm as an expert who will say it was totally off engineering standards then they will hire a firm saying it wasn't etc. Its best just to vote the group in you want on Aug 20 and solve it politically.

All engineers in every Court case are being paid hundreds of $'s an hour and are charging for every second of time. Solve it politically on Aug 20.

Don't miss the first two public comments in last nights City Council meeting. Looks like some groups are upset with this story. The low point for me is not the same as Ms. Galvin expressed in her press conference yesterday, the low point is the attempt by some in this city to intimidate citizens who exercise the right to free speech.

http://charlottesville.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=658

Wow! Seems like the majority here has put all the missing pieces together! Collect the pieces...and then write you own narrative.
Quick to judge, quick to discredit, and quick with motives that don't jive with the hard work organizations like Charlottesville Tomorrow contribute to make this place a better to live in.
If you count on them for news like I do, you know that the news they report is not sensationalized, and unlike any other news organization in print, television, or radio, they use pod-casts to allow their listeners to hear un-editted, the very words of those who influence the public debate. What other news organization lets you form you own ideas in such an accessible and unfiltered way?
Hawes story doesn't attempt a systematic approach to a prove with examples how Charlottesville Tommorrow's coverage of the dredging, or of the dam was biased. I suggest those looking for the truth look at the Charlottesville Tomorrow's section on the Water Plan and draw your own conclusions: http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/water_supply/
The facts don't support Hawes position of news tampering, I am dismayed at those who so quickly take the bait.
I know it feels great to tarnish the work of others, to look for hidden motives and follow money trail as if its the superhighway to all human motivation...but sometimes not all trials lead to the truth.
I thought y Hawes Spencer article was flawed for its depiction of not the issues he raises,but the attempted character assination of those who either have a different opinion, or whom in Charlottesville Tomorrow's case tell their story in different way. While I understand that there are opposing sides to every issue, I feel the intent of his piece was not to discredit the rational of an opposing position, but the very character of those who support it. Ridge Shhuyler is not an activist with a vision for healthier rivers, but a Nestle Waters insider posing as an enviromentalist. Hawes embroils Charlottesville Tomorrow as co-conspirator, cementing the conclusion between funding source, and media manipulation as if all parties involved hatched a giant scheme to subvert public opinion. C'ville Tomorrow is a non-profit, it needs funding. Should it recues itself on every issue that can even remotely be tied back to funding. If I contribute $100 to its fund and run for city council, should it no follow my canadicy? By extension, should the Hook not report on any story that involves business that have advertised in its paper? In his piece, Dawes doesn't even attempt to live up to the standards he sets for others, his personal opinion infuses every paragraph, his bias bubbles to the surface with every slander, every vague innuendo. Did anyone called to task in his piece have an opportunity to speak in their defense? Would it have mattered?

Furthermore, I don't begrudge Brian his salary, for three primary reasons: first, the comparison of Brian's role as founder, editor, manager, and lead reporter, to an average staff reporter at another paper is ludicrous. A more plausible comparison would be the salaries of Editors of the Hook or C'ville, or heads of local non-profits. Secondly, the work his group does is so significant to elevating the public good through encouraging public participation and understanding, the cost to benefit ratio is beyond reproach. the number of pod-casts, news stories, graphs, releases, 3d models, videos they post in a given week out produces other local news organization with much larger staffs. Thirdly, Brian puts in the time. Late nights at public hearings (most public meetings of consequence happen in the evenings), while the rest of us enjoy hearing the pod-casts from our homes, or reading C'ville Tomorrow's blog the next morning, Brian is there setting up his equipment early, staying till the last comments are made, packing up, and then writing a story.
All in all I very disappointed in the story primarily because it's basic objective is to kill the voice of opposition through character assignation, and to discredit the impartiality of a news organization not through showing that the reporting was bias on the issues, but that it was bias because of a intentional interference from a funding source.
I admire the effort people in our community put forward to making our community better, I think the cost of such effort seems to be a periodic witch hunt where because you effort, you effort for your own gain only.

"first, the comparison of Brian's role as founder, editor, manager, and lead reporter, to an average staff reporter at another paper is ludicrous"

When one considers who small Charlottesville Tomorrow is, and how narrow its coverage you are right. He's quite pricey in comparison. Sometimes I think this is how we have such a distorted political dialog these days.

How do you get rid of a corrupt government official? who you gonna call?

Bob, despite your pleas, following the money does reveal inappropriate ties to interest groups with a financial stake in outcomes. I will not stick my head in the sand while paid employees of organizations (e.g. The Nature Conservancy) sit on public policy boards able to produce policies that benefit their organizations. There is an obvious conflict of interest between TNC and the public interest since what may be financially best for TNC may not be so for the public. It is not character assassination to point this out a formal lack of propriety.

Investigative journalism???? I cannot believe people are using those words -- and seriously! This article is slanderous, slanted and riddled with huge lies. For instance, where is your evidence that Nestle is funding this water plan??? Yet The Hook saw fit to put that in the headline. Maybe Mr. Hawes should merge his paper with News Corp, because The Hook is reading more and more like "New of the World" every day. It's sad that this is one of the sources of "news" in Charlottesville/Albemarle..... Shame on The Hook.

Using land owners as bogy men to rile up easily impressed to get fellow wingnuts elected is just as duplicous as this whole trumped up scam hack job porports to expose.Buzzing up class warefare hasn't worked in Washington and won't work in C-Ville and area all will lose . Mr Hawes does Alec Innes well playing Hitler and Dede Eva Braun in the Bunker raving on and on and on about the filthy rich and their dasterdly water plans .Re-Runs soon and often leading up to the vote .

Hear, Hear, Bob! The bigger the lie, the more the people will believe it. The comments to this article are evidence that this maxim proves true again and again.

That the "connections" Mr. Spencer points up could simply be the result of the fact that this is not a large community seems to escape most of these armchair water-plan conspiricists. Much easier to believe that palms are getting greased on this deal than that reasonable people could arrive at different positions for a myriad of reasons.

The nature of the truth is that it's difficult to see its entirity when you limit your perspective. Sadly, this article serves to reinforce a simplistic viewpoint of this complex issue. Mr. Spencer does the public and the truth a disservice by writing, editing and publishing such a slanted piece. Notice, however, how much praise he receives.

Connections matter, the fact that all these people know one another makes it easier to convince otherwise smart people to support a less than intelligent decision. Monday nights council meeting was a perfect example. The first speaker was in an organization funded by the Nature Conservancy, excoriating the Hook for this story, but never mentioning her connection to the Nature Conservancy.
They have drunk the kool aid for so many years that facts and new information, that might prove them wrong, no longer matter.
It's ' my way or the highway " .

The Hook is the only print media in town that has been willing to show us these connections, and any intelligent person who has watched the political process knows what they mean.
My guess is VPA will award them a second award to go with the one they got in 2009 the highest award given for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service base on their water articles.
Take a look at the entire series it is truly remarkable.

http://www.readthehook.com/73751/story-archive-hook-water-supply-articles

They called it in the very first cover story and now there are no longer any question the dam/pipeline plan is a real boondoggle.

News Watcher - you are right on the mark. (The Hook and Hawes) "got in 2009 the highest award given for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service base on their water articles."

So who is "meanwhile"? Why do we listen to him evaluate Hawes?

Dredge.Get three to four estimates,take the best one. Sell the dredgings. (upsize the pipe from the reservoir?)
increase conservation through out the area. charge whats needed to make it work. continue planning for future
(possibly another reservoir). Manage growth smartly. Lets get on with it.
By the way Ridge Schuyler really is a good guy.
oh yea and lets get that parkway finished and done and get on with the project/battle.

I keep reading these comments and noticing that the big dam and pipeline defenders are so missing the point about this article. This article is not saying those with conflicts of interest are bad people, who only want the big dam and pipeline plan for their own selfish reasons. Hello! That is not the problem with a conflict of interest. The problem is that if you have a conflict of interest, neither you, nor certainly anyone else, can really trust your judgement. In my opinion, that is the nature of human psychology. It is a fact that prestige, money, power, accolades, personal investment, social circles - these can influence judgement. I like this article because it clearly points out the conflicts of interest most of the parties pushing the big dam and pipeline plan have. Put that together with the real lack of information the public has gotten about the dredging first plan (STILL no RFP and no opportunity to submit an alternate plan to the DEQ), Frederick's (or his directors) bias as shown by some of the original documents particularly, the flaws in the big dam plan (no real benefit to the Moorman's (as described clearly in Kevin Lynch's comment), the cost, the loss of City resources), and the lack of conflicts of interest on the dredging first side - and my choice is clear. I have a lot of hope, actually, that we can turn this situation around by voting on August 20 for Smith, Blount and Cannon. If you care about this issue, join me in voting for these candidates. I'd also like to point out to several of the detractors - obviously, Mr. Spencer DID attempt to interview several of the dam and pipeline crowd - he quotes Ann Malleck, for example, as being completely clueless about the conflict of interest she created - OF COURSE, she's been lobbied by Bill Kittrell - PLEASE, people, does not the Board of Supervisors receive recommendations or information from the ACSA?

Frank,

I own plenty of land as do other opponents of the dam. To spout off the typical right wing nonsense of victimization sans 'class-war' only indicates even more you stand to gain personally from this. The fact is this project benefits the few, and is paid for by the many. It is a bridge to nowhere that based on modern technology is no longer required. Worst case scenario people are just going to have to learn to do more with less. Its called economics.

This is just an exercise in class warefare attempting to get into power . Whenever it works and the players get their fanny in the seat of power they become pigs at the trough scooping up anything and everything to stuff their pockets. Look at Washington as an example . THis is the most high maintenance group ever . Always on exotic expensive taxpayer vacations . You going to the mega million birthday party you are paying for ?

@ the point. Both your comment and Sabath Lilly's have been enlightening to this discussion. Thank you

The "arab spring" is only the beginning

The "Arab Spring" has just begun

Here's what I think is happening here:

" When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Edmund Burke
Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)

Or Burke's quote as interpreted by Alan Dershowitz in " Trials of the Century "

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for a few good people to remain silent . "

May one of those good people reading this article have the courage to speak before it is too late.

@ readthehook,
with all the slop & mistakes in your magazine your "journalists" should feel lucky to make $25K a year