Amid concerns over ecology, RWSA pauses transfer of water from Sugar Hollow to Ragged Mountain
Charlottesville, VA—August 7, 2015. After close monitoring and coordination with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) took a proactive measure to protect the ecology of Sugar Hollow on August 4, 2015 by halting the transfer of water from Sugar Hollow Reservoir to Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
According to Paul Bugas, Region 4 Aquatics Manager of VDGIF, shallow-dwelling largemouth bass and sunfish populations at Sugar Hollow should handle changing conditions. However, brook trout stocked by the DGIF in Virginia waters for recreational fishing prefer cooler temperatures and higher oxygen levels than what Sugar Hollow is currently producing. The delicate balancing act of filling a reservoir, while maintaining downstream river flows, along with unpredictable summer weather patterns has reduced the area of optimal deep water habitat for the remaining trout in the lake. RWSA is therefore taking precautionary measures available to protect the stocked trout by following the DGIF recommendations of 1- pausing the transfer of water from Sugar Hollow to Ragged Mountain Dam 2- keeping the release of 2 million gallons per day into the Moormans River as laid out in the Community Water Supply plan and the Department of Environmental Quality permit 3- increasing monitoring of Sugar Hollow and 4- conducting regular consultation with the VDGIF.
“We believe it very important to balance our commitment to the ecology and the needs of aquatic life on both sides of the Sugar Hollow Dam. This principal guides our current implementation of our 50-year water plan, using our reservoirs for both human needs and to restore ecological flows to our local rivers,” stated Mr. Tom Frederick, RWSA’s Executive Director.
“The temporary pause in removing water from Sugar Hollow should have a positive benefit on the remaining brook trout in the reservoir. RWSA’s increased water quality monitoring will give us the information to make informed decisions on water transfer in the future,” Bugas commented.
The Sugar Hollow Dam was built in 1947 to supply water for the community. It is connected to the Ragged Mountain Reservoir via a pipeline and the Observatory Hill Water Treatment Plant. Reservoir overflow leads to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir via river flow. These three interconnected reservoirs act as one system to adequately provide the drinking water for our urban area now and in the future. The Sugar Hollow reservoir is the highest of the RWSA’s three dams used for our urban water supply, and as such, has been used to help fill the others.
Rivanna Water and Sewer mission is to ensure adequate water supply for now and in the future while protecting the natural environment. RWSA is a wholesale provider of clean, safe, high-quality drinking water serving City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County Service Authority’s over 120,000 customers. RSWA then treats wastewater, so it can safely return to the aquatic environment of the Rivanna and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.
For further information or interviews call Thomas L. Frederick, Executive Director, ext. 103