By Brian Wheeler

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

John Lowry (I-Samuel Miller)

On June 3, 2009, outside the Albemarle County Office Building,

John Lowry

(I) announced he had submitted his paperwork to officially secure a position on the November 3, 2009 ballot in the race for the Samuel Miller District seat on the Board of Supervisors.  Lowry also shared his position on the approved 50-year community water supply plan.

Lowry will face Madison Cummings (D) and Duane Snow (R) in a three way race to fill the seat currently held by retiring Supervisor Sally Thomas (I).  The last three-way race for Supervisor was in the 2007 election when incumbent Lindsay Dorrier (D) defeated independent challengers Kevin Fletcher and Denny King.

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Running as an independent, Lowry has had to collect on petitions signatures from at least 125 registered voters in the Samuel Miller District.  It is interesting to note that that only 117 voters participated in the Democratic caucus to nominate Cummings and just 74 voters participated in the Republican caucus to nominate Snow.  Thus, since there are about 10,600 registered voters in the district, approximately 3% of the voters have set the ballot for this important County election.

One of the topics that is expected to be discussed by all 2009 candidates for Supervisor and City Council is the 50-year community water supply plan.  The plan, approved unanimously in 2006 by County and City leaders, involves building a new dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir to increase storage capacity and building a new pipeline to connect the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to Ragged Mountain.  The pipeline would allow water from the Rivanna River to be pumped and stored for public water needs.  Increased storage capacity is required to accommodate population growth and to prepare for future droughts.

Lowry told a gathering of local reporters that he supported the approved 50-year community water supply plan.  “Prudence tells us that it is time to move forward.  After years of political football, it’s time for responsibility.”

“The dam at Ragged Mountain has structural deficiencies,” said Lowry.  “We either must fix the dam, giving us little or no additional capacity, or build a new one.”  The current Lower Ragged Mountain Dam was built around 1908 and questions about its safety were raised as early as 1913.

Lowry reacted to the story in today’s The Daily Progress which mentioned that the construction schedule of the new dam is now expected to be beyond the 2011 deadline set by state dam safety officials to fix or replace the dam.  “If we do not get started now, we will begin to miss state mandated deadlines,” said Lowry.  “We cannot wait.”

If construction is delayed, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority may need to seek another extension to the conditional permit which allows continued use of the reservoir.  After the 2011 deadline, state officials could also force the RWSA to lower the water level as a safety precaution, thus severely impacting the existing water supply.

Lowry also distanced himself from the positions espoused by Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan, a group that has advocated dredging and alternatives to construction of a new dam.

“There are those who say that the current Water Plan should be scrapped. They say that conservation, and dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, is the way forward.  They are both right and wrong.  They are wrong, because the question is ‘What will the our water supply need be fifty years out?’ Will the next generation have safe water to drink? The simple answer is that, in a growing, vibrant community, we must plan for more reservoir capacity.  Fundamentally, the question is not ‘more capacity OR dredging and conservation?’ The answer is ‘more capacity AND dredging AND conservation.’  Where they are right, is that taking better care of our resources is important. That means taking care of what we have.  I have no objections to considering dredging the Rivanna Reservoir, particularly if the goal is to extend its life, but dredging is not the alternative.”

On the matter of cost estimates, Lowry said that his professional background in finance gave him unique qualifications to help plan the financing for the project.

“The reality is we will not actually know what price tags are until the components go to bid,” said Lowry.  “I submit it is better to finance our plan sooner than wait to pass the burden to others. It will almost certainly be cheaper to do it now rather than later.”

See Charlottesville Tomorrow’s

Election Watch page

for complete coverage of the County’s 2009 elections.


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