By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, September 16, 2011

The agency that provides water and sewer service to Albemarle County’s urban area will take a position on the regional water supply plan being prepared by the

Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

, even though state regulations do not require it to do so.

“The [Albemarle County Service Authority] plans for future water [and] has half the customers who are going to be impacted by the plan,and we’re paying for it,” said

Jim Colbaugh

, a member of the ACSA’s board of directors.

Download AECOM’s August 2011 water demand forecast

Download RWSA’s regional water plan

Under state law, every locality is responsible for crafting a water supply plan that outlines how it will manage supply during droughts. Charlottesville and Albemarle opted to prepare a regional plan, and the RWSA was tasked with doing so with assistance from the firm AECOM.

The ACSA has been an active participant in decisions to plan for new water supply infrastructure by expanding the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

and connecting it to the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

with a new pipeline.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:

Download ACSA’s September 15, 2011 meeting


City Council


Board of Supervisors

must vote to approve a regional water plan by Nov. 2. The ACSA does not have a formal role in the process, but Colbaugh said their input should be made anyway.

“We’re part of the plan and we ought to take it up and approve it or disapprove it,” Colbaugh said.

Earlier this week, the ACSA was in attendance for a meeting of the “four boards” to hear officials from the firm AECOM explain how water demand numbers were calculated for 2060.

ACSA Executive Director Gary O’Connell (file photo)

Gary O’Connell

, executive director of the ACSA, said the regional water planning process should not be confused with the RWSA’s efforts to build a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

“The regional water supply plan we discussed this week is a planning process that is apart and different,” O’Connell said.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on Sept. 29 to take comment on modifications to the permit granted to the RWSA in February 2008 that allowed for construction of a concrete dam. The DEQ is considering a permit modification to allow for an earthen dam instead.

At a meeting Thursday, ACSA Chair

Clarence Roberts

suggested the agency hold a meeting on the same day as the DEQ meeting to take a position on the regional water plan.

However, ACSA member

David Thomas

was skeptical.

“My concern is that by dealing with those two together, we run the risk of adding to confusion by conflating the two,” Thomas said. “Obviously they address the same issues but technically and legally they don’t have anything to do with each other.”

Instead, the ACSA agreed to schedule a special meeting on Oct. 6 to take up the regional water supply plan.

The new dam will not be advertised for construction bids until Charlottesville and Albemarle County agree on a cost-share allocation. Negotiations have been going on for several months.

“We’re continuing to have discussions almost every day,” O’Connell said in an interview. He said he is hopeful agreement can be reached with Charlottesville in time to put the project out for construction bids by Nov. 1.

In an email, City Manager

Maurice Jones

said there was nothing new he could report.

In other news, the firm A.G. Dillard has been awarded a $729,870 contract to extend sewer service to the

Oak Hill neighborhood

in Albemarle County. The ACSA received a Community Development Block Grant for the project, which allowed the agency to waive connection fees for the low to middle income residents.

“Some of the properties have failed and some are failing and an opportunity came along for the grant to put a public sewer system into the community,” O’Connell said.


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