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Cost sharing agreement on sewer projects stymies local officials
Rivanna Pump Station near Riverview Park
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Credit: Hazen and Sawyer
Existing Rivanna Pump Station near Riverview Park
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by Brian Wheeler | Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 7:38 p.m.

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has awarded a contract for construction of a new sewer pump station and finalized plans for a granular-activated carbon water treatment system.

The votes by the RWSA board Tuesday set the course for two major capital projects for the Charlottesville-Albemarle urban water and sewer system.

Left unresolved is how the city and the county will split the costs for the $33.3 million Rivanna Pump Station, which will replace an existing facility in the city’s Woolen Mills neighborhood.

“I have a problem with this because we haven’t completed our discussions on the cost-sharing agreement,” said Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd. “I have a real problem voting to authorize a contract ... when you don’t have that resolution in place yet.”

The pump station was approved in December 2011, but closed-door negotiations on how to split the costs have been unsuccessful over the past two years. A mediator was brought in recently to help resolve the matter.

“We are making progress,” said City Councilor Kathy Galvin. “There was a turning point when we included the mediator.”

Gary O’Connell, executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority and an RWSA board member, suggested the board go ahead and award the pump station bid while acknowledging the unfinished financial business.

“I thought by now we would have a cost-sharing agreement. I think that was everyone’s intent when this was voted on two years ago,” O’Connell said. “Negotiations have moved along rapidly in the last month, but we are not there. I think they have been pretty constructive.”

O’Connell handed out a resolution that included a statement that the ACSA and the city “are working diligently” on a cost-sharing agreement.

The RWSA’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., encouraged the two parties — his wholesale customers — to expedite the resolution “as fast as humanly possible.”

“Fiduciary responsibility compels me to suggest to this board that you go forward and award the contract even without a cost-share agreement,” Frederick said. “We run a risk if we delay this decision that we will not complete construction before the consent order deadline with the [Virginia Department of Environmental Quality] and we could face penalties from the state.”

The consent decree mandates that the community reduce the amount of raw sewage allowed to flow into the Rivanna River and other area waterways during major rainfall events.

The RWSA board unanimously adopted the resolution, which awards the pump station construction contract to the Ohio-based firm of Adams Robinson.

“Instead of a $40 million project, we are now talking about a $33.3 million project,” Frederick said.

Of this total, Adams Robinson will receive $23.3 million for the construction effort. The board set a new deadline of February for the cost-share agreement.

Carbon filtration

In other business, the RWSA board approved an approach for a granular-activated carbon filtration system for the community’s urban drinking water supply. It selected a “hybrid” option that is cheaper than treating all water with carbon filters.

Frederick was authorized to work with the firm Hazen and Sawyer on a $1 million project to complete the final engineering and design work. The total project cost is $17.3 million, $2.2 million less than the full-scale treatment option.

“This is the most cost-effective and logical approach,” Boyd said.

The RWSA must upgrade its water treatment systems by October to comply with more-stringent federal regulations. The modular hybrid system can be upgraded if necessary, at additional cost, to fully treat all drinking water.

Moores Creek

The RWSA board also was updated on efforts to evaluate and control odor from the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“The best thing to do is to update our profile of the sources of the odors of this plant and how far they are going,” Frederick said. “Our processes have changed since the last master plan was done in 2007.”

Hazen and Sawyer will conduct a walkthrough of the plant later this month to evaluate “low-hanging fruit.” New air samples will be taken in the early spring.

The $78,000 project will inform how much the $2 million odor control project in the RWSA capital budget needs to be expanded.

 

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