In the past month, both the Charlottesville City Council and the
Albemarle County Board of supervisors have passed resolutions directing
their representatives on the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA)
to investigate the possibility of dredging the South Fork Rivanna
Reservoir. At their monthly meeting on June 23, 2008, the Board voted
to authorize up to $300,000 for a study of dredging.  The RWSA will
release a request for proposals by July 8, 2008.

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the public comment period, much of the feedback for the Board was
directed towards the possible dredging of the South Fork Rivanna
Reservoir which was built in 1966 and is losing about 1% of its
capacity annually due to siltation. Before the meeting, Tom Frederick,
Executive Director of the RWSA, had prepared a memo for the Board
outlining a series of recommendations for initiating a dredging study.

to Frederick’s memo, “from the context of the [City & County]
resolutions themselves, the stated goal is high water quality, and the
purpose behind the goal is to enhance the reservoir’s resources to the
community.” The memo recommends that the staff of the RWSA issue a
request for proposals (RFP) by July 8, 2008 to identify consulting companies with expertise in a number of areas relevant to dredging,
including experience in design and implementation of dredging
strategies, disposal of removed sediment, and water quality analysis.

Collins, a former Chairman of the RWSA (and member of Advocates for a
Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP) and Citizens for a Sustainable
Water Plan), stated his opinion that Frederick’s memo downplays the
issue of water quantity and plays up the issue of water quality. He
told the Board he felt the dredging study being proposed by Frederick
downplayed the contribution the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir should
make to the urban water system’s safe yield. Collins said it was his
impression that City Council wanted to find a way to lower the
necessary height of the new dam at Ragged Mountain.

Mooney, a member of the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan and a
critic of the 50-year water supply plan as adopted, began by suggesting
to the Board that they reschedule their meetings in order to encourage
more citizen participation. The meetings currently occur at 2 PM on
Monday, which is during the work day for many citizens who would
otherwise attend according to Mooney.  She next presented a petition
with over 500 signatures advocating dredging.  “I hope we can trust you
to get these surveys done professionally, and as soon as possible, so
the water supply strategy can proceed with all the information
necessary,” said Mooney.

Kevin Lynch, former City Councilor
and a member of the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan, advocated a
more expedient schedule to study dredging than that laid out by
Frederick. Pointing to a draft RFP created by the Piedmont
Environmental Council, he argued that setting a date of July 1st for
the creation of an RFP for dredging study would be an aggressive
schedule, “but certainly not an impossible one.”

Pat Enright,
CEO of Dominion Development Resources (DDR) LLC and Earlysville
resident, said the first priority of any dredging study should be to
find a disposal site for the sediment. He talked about a hypothetical
scenario in which expensive analysis determined dredging to be the best
option, but the lack of a disposal site for sediment made the study “a
waste of money.” Enright has already expressed his firm’s interest in
utilizing dredge material to fill an abandoned quarry owned by Dr.
Charles Hurt which is near the reservoir.

When it came time for the Board to consider the RFP for the dredging study,

recommended the Board pursue two parallel courses of action. He
suggested that there are two goals of the initial stage of the process:
; identifying the purposes of dredging, and choosing a consulting firm
with the requisite experience to help guide the RWSA.  “We’re
suggesting that we start on a parallel track but recognize these tracks
are going to come together in the coming weeks,” said Frederick.

the first goal, Frederick proposed a meeting between RWSA Board
Chairman Mike Gaffney, Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, Albemarle
County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ken Boyd, and Albemarle County
Service Authority Chairman Don Wagner to determine whether a task force
would be an effective way to address the issue, and if so, who should
be asked to serve. Frederick said this meeting should occur by July 4,

For the second goal, Frederick suggested RWSA staff issue
an RFP soliciting credentials and ideas from consulting companies, in
order to identify the group that will be best able to design an
effective dredging strategy. Once a company is chosen, it would be
responsible for designing a plan that meets the goals laid out by the
task force. Frederick recommended a deadline of July 8th for the
issuance of an RFP.

County Executive Bob Tucker asked for a
clarification on whether a scope of work would be included in the RFP.
Frederick responded that there would be no specific scope of work
initially, but that the RFP “would identify the areas of possible study
that we need expertise to fill.” Frederick added that he wants to know
how consultants would approach the problem, suggesting it was more of a
Request for Qualifications rather than a detailed RFP. Tucker asked if
the task force would help develop the RFP, and Frederick said yes.
“We’re anticipating the task force will help us define why we are
performing the study,” Frederick said. The Board, after only a brief
discussion, voted unanimously authorize the expenditure of up to
$300,000 for the study and RFP process.


other business, Frederick briefed the Board and the public on the
status of area reservoirs. He explained that as of mid-June, the
Charlottesville area had been dropped from the National Drought
Mitigation Center’s list of areas in drought condition, and that the
likelihood of a severe drought in 2008 was “very small.” Citing the
unpredictably of the weather, Frederick closed his statement by
reminding those in attendance that regardless of the current year’s
water situation, it was always important to focus on water conservation.

John Via, who sold some of the land that was originally slated for
construction of the proposed Buck Mountain Reservoir, was the first to
speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. The Buck
Mountain Reservoir plan had to be tabled, in part, when the James River
spiny mussel, an endangered species, was found in the area.  Via asked
the RWSA Board to sell back the land, rather than use it as part of the
mitigation plan for the expansion of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

“It shouldn’t be used for other purposes other than what it was bought for,” Via said.

Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller), speaking as a member of the
Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC), asked Frederick and the Board to
undertake an effort to encourage rainwater harvesting, and provide a
standard set of procedures for builders wishing to implement such
systems on their property. She expressed a desire for a joint meeting
between the RWSA and the RRBC to discuss the topic further.


RWSA also directed a consultant to evaluate a new design for the
proposed upgrade to the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment plant, which,
if approved, would add an extra $2 million to the approximately $40
million budget for the project.

State water regulations passed
in 2005 require water treatment facilities to reduce nitrogen levels to
6 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or lower, with an incentive program
allowing facilities with lower nitrogen levels to sell credits to other
facilities and jurisdictions who are unable to meet the regulation.

and Sawyer, an engineering firm hired by the RWSA to design the
upgraded plant, had estimated the current nitrogen levels at 25 (mg/L).
The firm recommended the RWSA aim to reduce levels to 5 mg/L and
increase revenue by selling credits. Unfortunately, further study
authorized by the RWSA in January has revealed that the current
nitrogen levels are approximately 30 mg/L, and the treatment methods as
designed would not be able to reduce 30 mg/L to even the 6 mg/L
required by law.

Hazen and Sawyer presented three design
alternatives. Option 1 would cost $108,000 and would add extra
filtering capacity with six tertiary filters to bring nitrogen levels
down to 6 mg/L. Option 2 would build an additional aeration basins at a
cost of $3.4 million. Option 3 would add 2 more tertiary filters, and
bring nitrogen levels down to 5 mg/L as originally planned, allowing
the RWSA to earn between $50,000 and $75,000 a year through the sale of
credits. This option would cost $2 million.

recommended Option 3 in part because it would qualify for funding from
the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s Water Quality
Improvement Fund, which would reimburse the RWSA for 60% of the total
$2 million bill as long as it did not go significantly above budget. He
also said the extra filters would be consistent with a planned
expansion of the Moores Creek facility by 2022.

Frederick also
said DEQ’s water quality regulations continue to evolve, and the state
could create more stringent requirements at a later date. Frederick did
admit that there was no way to determine what future limits could be
enacted, and another member of staff answered a question from Gary
O’Connell by identifying California and Florida as states with
requirements of fewer than 1 mg/L.

The RWSA voted unanimously
to allocate approximately $82,000 for Hazen and Sawyer to revise their
design, $49,200 of which will be reimbursed by the DEQ. The Board
reserved the right to review the changes, and decide on a final course
of action after there was a clearer indication of how close the total
cost would come to the estimate of $2 million.

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Ben Doernberg


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