County water authorities may play bigger role with dredging study

By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Monday, November 9, 2009


Albemarle County Service Authority’s

(ACSA) Board of Directors is considering whether to pay for certain tasks that were eliminated from a dredging feasibility of the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

. Earlier this year, the authority refused to contribute to a study because the board said dredging the reservoir to its original capacity would not alone be enough to meet the community’s water needs in 2055.

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Last month, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) Board of Directors awarded a contract to

HDR Engineering

to perform the study, largely at the request of the Charlottesville City Council. Council a

greed to pay for tasks in the study

that directly related to adding water capacity at the reservoir. In October, they

reduced the scope of work

in order to lower the cost of the study.

John Martin (right) asks a question of RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

Tom Frederick, Executive Director of the RWSA, has said on multiple occasions since then that the study might not produce an accurate estimate for the cost of dredging. He appeared before the ACSA Board at a special work session held on November 5, 2009.  One item removed from the list of studies was a $25,000 beneficial re-use study, where dredged sediment would be examined to determine its commercial value.

“The more sediment that can be used [commercially], the less that you have to worry about disposing it, which may reduce the cost of dredging,” Frederick said. He added that a contractor may be able to sell the sediment as fill for other construction projects.

Additionally, Frederick said only two potential dewatering sites would be analyzed under the reduced scope, whereas there are at least four possible locations that have been discussed.

“If this community wants to study all four in detail, we’re going to have put up more money than we’ve already offered,” Frederick said.

ACSA Director John Martin (White Hall), a supporter of the adopted community water supply plan, said he wanted to know what role the ACSA could play to make sure the feasibility study provides objective data.

“My personal attitude is that this feasibility study shouldn’t be done at all,” Martin said. “But if it’s going to be done, it should be done right.”

Richard Carter (Jack Jouett) said the ACSA Board should become more proactive in supporting the 50-year plan, but also should make sure that City Council’s concerns are satisfied. Fellow directors agreed, but agreed to take up whether to fund the beneficial re-use study and the study of the two additional dewatering sites at its next meeting on November 19, 2009.

Frederick said that he welcomed additional ideas about the water supply plan, and said the community is benefiting from the discussion.

“We are very hopeful that a much better plan and cost will come forward from the studies we are currently doing than what was offered by Gannett Fleming in August 2008,” Frederick said.