By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A former member of

Albemarle County Service Authority

warned the Board of Supervisors Wednesday against efforts to reduce the demand targets being planned for in the community water supply plan.

“One of the criticisms on the water supply plan is that it’s enormous,” said Liz Palmer, whose term on the ACSA expired in December. “[But] it’s quite reasonable.”

Last week, the

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

agreed to take another look at the water demand projections

on which the plan to build a new dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir is based. The board authorized spending up to $30,000 to hire a consultant to recheck the various calculations that went into a demand analysis conducted in 2004 by

Gannet Fleming


The engineering firm projected the community would require 18.7 million gallons a day by the year 2055 in order to meet “safe-yield” requirements for a growing population and for a severe drought.

Albemarle County Supervisor

Ken Boyd

said the RWSA’s decision to review the demand analysis was a compromise between the two regional partners. Mayor

Dave Norris

has said many times that the community has demonstrated it is using less water.

“The City Council is very concerned that the numbers we used are not adequate,” said Boyd. “What they will do is review the criteria used for [the analysis] and what has happened since then.”

However, Palmer said the analysis assumed that each person will need a relatively low amounts of water compared to communities in the rest of the state.

According to a

presentation made in 2007 by a Department of Environmental Quality official

who reviews water supply plans, Albemarle County is planning for an average per capita consumption of 93 gallons per day (gpd), and Charlottesville is planning for 108.5 gpd. In contrast, Staunton is planning for 175 and Winchester is planning for 279 gpd.

“That is all the uses of water rolled into one,” Palmer said. “It’s not just our domestic use. It’s hospitals, it’s business, it’s leaks, it’s schools, it’s fire protection, it’s everything rolled into one number.”

Palmer said Albemarle should be prepared in case an industry that uses large volumes of water wanted to relocate here. Citing recent efforts to encourage agribusiness in the community, Palmer pointed out that Winchester’s second largest top industrial user is White House Foods.

One Supervisor agreed.

“You can’t necessarily assume that this county is never going to have another high-water user come in here,” said Supervisor

Dennis Rooker



Ann Mallek

said she felt that a brand-new analysis could project a larger safe-yield figure that 18.7 MGD, requiring even more water storage than that called for in the water supply plan.


Interested in what we're working on next? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and never miss a story.