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RWSA adopts $152 million capital budget for next five years
Thomas L. Frederick, Jr at the January 28, 2014 RWSA meeting
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Tom Frederick at the January 28, 2014 RWSA meeting
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by Sean Tubbs | Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.

The Board of Directors of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has adopted a $152 million capital improvement plan for the next five years. That represents a 3 percent decrease from the previous capital budget.

Of that amount, $79.3 million will be spent on projects to maintain and improve the urban water system, $57.4 million will go toward wastewater projects and $15 million will be spent on projects in Crozet, Scottsville and other areas.

“Capital improvement and replacement is the fundamental ‘back bone’ of providing reliable drinking water, as well as wastewater treatment services that serve basic needs of the residents and businesses in the city and county,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA.

Frederick said the capital plan is lower than it has been in recent years because projects such as the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plan are completed and because the authority is more than halfway through paying for the new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

“Enormous progress has been made in the last 10 years to transform a wastewater transmission and treatment system that was outdated and falling into disrepair into what is now emerging as world class,” Frederick said.

The RWSA board was first presented with the plan in October. Since then, the plan’s total cost has been lowered to reflect a $6.7 million reduction in the cost estimate for the Rivanna Pump Station.

The plan includes $3.5 million to dredge the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, even though there are no firm plans to proceed with a limited dredging project.

“There hasn’t been a push to me from any board members to move anything further on that right now, but it remains a contractual obligation,” Frederick said, referring to the 2012 water plan agreement between Charlottesville and Albemarle. “Nothing will actually be spent until we get direction.”

The plan includes about $225,000 to purchase right-of-way for the pipeline that would connect the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. This project, part of the 2012 water plan, would replace a pipeline from the Sugar Hollow Reservoir that was built in 1925.

The CIP anticipates spending $7.8 million on improvements to the Observatory Hill Water Treatment Plant. Frederick said the facility, which dates back to the mid-1950s, is in need of repair.

“The 60-year-old facility has much of the original equipment that is inefficient, prone to unexpected failure and does not have readily accessible replacement parts,” Frederick said.

The current CIP anticipates spending $2 million on the second phase of odor-control efforts at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. This will involve covering equipment and pumping air through a vacuum to a centralized scrubbing facility.

McIntire Road closure?

In other news, the RWSA will convene a special meeting in the coming week to discuss a possible alignment for the Schenks Branch Interceptor replacement that could require a temporary closure of McIntire Road.

A consent order from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requires the RWSA to submit a design by March 31for how the sewer line will be replaced.

At issue is a portion near the lower parking lot for the Albemarle County Office Building.

“Due to the depth of the sewer, it must be located near the valley bottom, and because of the existing location of a railroad spur on the west side, existing private homes on the east side, and existing utilities along the west shoulder of McIntire Road, the only acceptable alternative to county property is to bury the new sewer directly under McIntire Road,” Frederick wrote in a report presented to the board.

Frederick said his engineers are advising that McIntire Road be closed if this alignment is ultimately chosen.

The matter was not discussed during Tuesday’s open meeting, but the issue was brought up during a closed session.
 

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