No one from the public spoke on Tuesday before the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority on Tuesday adopted a $24.8 million operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The amount is a 1-percent decrease from the current year’s budget.
A $156 million capital improvement program running through 2017 is included in the fiscal plan. However, the city and county have not yet reached agreement on a cost-share allocation for the $40 million Rivanna Pump Station, which is slated to be under construction by the end of this year.
County officials wanted to save about $13 million by building a new facility at the pump station’s current location adjacent to the city’s Riverview Park. However, city officials sought an option that would move the facility to the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Our attorneys talked several different times last week trying to figure out next steps to move us forward,” said Gary O’Connell, the executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority.
Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd pointed out that when the board selected a design for the project in late 2011, they set a date of June 2012 to agree to a cost-share allocation.
“We’re about a year behind,” Boyd said.
The new facility is required to be built by July 2017 as part of a consent decree between the RWSA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Earlier this month, the RWSA held an open house for citizens to learn more about the project.
“The open house format worked rather well as opposed to a formal public meeting,” Frederick said.
More than 50 contractors and vendors attended a similar forum for those looking for information on bidding for the project.
The RWSA is expected to begin acquiring easements for the property in June, and is hoping to award a contract for the project in late November.
The budget also includes wholesale water rates to both the city and the county decreasing by 4.18 percent and 3.81 percent respectively. The county’s wholesale rate for sewage will decrease by 0.79 percent while the city’s wastewater rate will increase 7.21 percent.
Frederick said the city’s increase is because Charlottesville residents will pay for the total cost to replace the Schenk’s Branch Interceptor.
The capital budget includes $10,000 for the non-profit Streamwatch to collect data on the quality of area streams.
However, the Rivanna River Basin Commission withdrew a request for $25,000 to research the possibility of setting up a system to trade nutrient credits. The non-profit had never before asked for funding from the RWSA and is reducing its operations because of budgetary issues.
As the RWSA is under the guidelines for wastewater regulations, it could sell credits to other water treatment facilities that do not meet DEQ guidelines. Regulations are being tightened gradually as a part of the Chesapeake Bay clean-up mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“For Moores Creek, total nitrogen was at 20 percent of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality allocation milestone and phosphorus was at 16 percent of the DEQ allocation milestone,”
Frederick said. “All of these low percentages indicate we are producing effluent much lower than what the regulators allow.”
In other news, Frederick also told the RWSA Board that there is not much likelihood of a catastrophic drought this year because of a wet spring. Since April, over six-and-a-half inches of rain have fallen on Charlottesville.
“We have identified through the review of the historical record that a wet May significantly diminishes the statistical probability of a major drought like 2002 occurring in that particular calendar year,” Frederick said.
However, Frederick said his staff will monitor the situation as the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above average temperatures for June through September.
All of the RWSA’s reservoirs are full, with the exception of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. That pool has been lowered due to construction of a new dam.
“I’d say we’re about 65 percent complete,” said Doug March, project manager for the project.