By Tarpley Ashworth & Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Charlottesville City Council
has held the first reading of a resolution to transfer easements to the
Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority
allowing for the utility to replace a sewer line that runs along Meadow Creek. At their meeting on November 16, 2009, Council also endorsed the concept of a restoration of the waterway’s stream bank. That work will be done in conjunction with the sewer line expansion.
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As part of the endorsement of the stream bank project, Councilors said it would consider granting a conservation easement on all City-owned land that surrounds
as it flows from Hydraulic Road to Greenbrier Park. That is a requirement of the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (VARTF), which is paying for the restoration.
In all, the project will cover about 8,500 linear feet of the creek, 1,800 linear feet of its tributaries, and will protect 73 acres of forests and wetlands. The restoration will create or strengthen riparian buffers along the creek’s edges, reduce the slope of creek banks to reduce the velocity of runoff, , replace invasive tree species with native vegetation, and install “in-stream” structures which rebuild natural stream characteristics, like curving meanders, which have been lost over the years due to erosion.
“I can tell you [this will be] one of the largest stream restoration projects I think I will ever see in my professional lifetime,” said Kristel Riddervold, the City’s Environmental Administrator. She cited a 2000 foot restoration of Moores Creek through
in Charlottesville as an example of a similar project the City has embarked upon in the past.
In addition to upgrading capacity, the project will also address the deterioration of the current pipeline. There are currently numerous cases of broken pipe or joints, root intrusions, and exposed pipe along the banks of Meadow Creek which significantly increases erosion.
Council must grant the easements on City land to the RWSA for the sewer replacement for the project to begin. The easements cover portions of
, and land adjacent to the
Charlottesville High School
stadium, Melbourne Road, and the Route 250 bypass.
Public comment was fairly supportive of restoring Meadow Creek, but many residents questioned the merits of the Meadowcreek Interceptor project.
Linda Seaman of the Greenbrier Neighborhood Association suggested that city officials keep a “watchful eye” over construction to ensure that it doesn’t harm the environment, and proposed there be a single project manager between both projects so concerned citizens would have a primary point of contact.
City resident John Pfaltz said the expanded sewer capacity would lead to increased development and traffic along Route 29. Betty Mooney of the group
Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
said the Interceptor project would primarily benefit the County.
“The city should not be paying for county growth, for county traffic, [and] for enlarging pipes for the county,” said Mooney.
Before taking a final vote on the matters, Mayor
addressed concerns that the City was paying for a County project.
“We have made it very clear that the City will not pay a single dime for expansion of the sewer system that’s related to growth in
. That’s been our position for quite some time,” said Norris.
Council will take up the second reading of the easement at its meeting on December 7, 2009.
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