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City Council will pay for additional South Fork Reservoir dredging studies

By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The

City Council

has finally prevailed in its quest to get the

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

(RWSA) to issue an RFP for a series of dredging feasibility studies that would provide an estimate of how much it would cost to restore the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

to its original water storage capacity for the urban water supply. At their meeting on May 18, 2009, Council voted to pay for several specific studies that the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA)  prefers

not to fund.


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The studies include:

•    A pre-dredge survey that would check the reservoir floor for stumps and other obstacles to dredging

•    Analysis of the sediment that has collected in the reservoir since 1966

•    An evaluation of potential disposal sites that would include at least four locations

•    An analysis of dredging alternatives, to include a sequence of events of how dredging would be implemented




Charlottesville City Council

During his report, City Manager and RWSA Board member Gary O’Connell explained to Council that the ACSA was only willing to pay for studies that would pertain to maintenance dredging of the reservoir. These would include a bathymetric study of the reservoir, legal advice on whether wetlands that have formed since 1966 would prevent dredging and analysis of whether forebays would stop sedimentation.

O’Connell said the cost estimate for the full scope of services is $300,000, though an exact cost-share between the City and the ACSA will likely not be worked out until bids are received by the RWSA.

City Councilor

Satyendra Huja

said he was disappointed that the ACSA was not willing to pay for the full scope of services. Councilor

Julian Taliaferro

said he was bothered by what he saw as a lack of cooperation. Councilor

David Brown

, on the other hand, said he thought that the Albemarle County Service Authority was within its rights to refuse to pay for what its Board felt was unnecessary.

“Whether dredging should be considered is controversial in our community,” Brown said. He said he agreed with those who feel dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir is unnecessary for the purposes of the community water supply plan. “But I also think there are a lot of people who erred by not looking seriously at dredging, that the costs were over-inflated.”

After some discussion, Council unanimously voted to approve the conditions under which the RFP will be issued. The RFP will be issued on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, according to Mary Knowles with the RWSA.

Shorty before the discussion, City Attorney Craig Brown explained the paperwork that had to be filed with the State Corporation Commission to allow Edwards to vote. The

State Conflict of Interest Act

regulates the ability of a city or county employee from voting on matters that they may benefit from. Because Edwards makes over $10,000 as a City Councilor, Brown was concerned she would be disqualified from serving on the RWSA Board under the act.

“There was enough concern that the law was written broad enough that it would apply and preclude the City’s representatives from voting on certain matters that are important to the City that came before [the RWSA],” Brown said. Penalties for violating the Act could include being charged with a misdemeanor or a fine, but Brown said that Albemarle County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford has written a legal opinion that says she believes Edwards will act in good faith on the RWSA Board.


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