By Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Charlottesville City Council
has directed its representatives on the
Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority
to vote against an option that would site and expand a new regional pump station at the station’s current location in the city’s
“This is what I asked them to do back in April and I’m glad they’ve finally done it,” said Victoria Dunham, president of the
Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association
The RWSA has been evaluating three options to replace the Rivanna pump station, which currently does not have enough capacity to handle wastewater after heavy rainfall.The agency entered into a consent decree with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requiring it to select one of the options by Dec. 31.
“The goal is to control sanitary sewer overflows, which is a very important environmental goal,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA.
Option A would replace the station at its existing location near Riverview Park at a cost between $28 million and $30 million. Option D would build a new station on land currently owned by State Farm across the Rivanna River in Albemarle County and would cost $55 million.Option E would extend the existing sewer line by tunneling 2,000 feet to a new station built on the property of the
Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
. This concept has been estimated to cost as much as $40 million.
Residents of the Woolen Mills neighborhood have repeatedly stated their opposition to Option A. In response, members of the
Albemarle County Service Authority
suggested a new station there could have architectural features that lower its visual impact on the community. Such renderings were prepared, but they did not satisfy either the neighborhood or the council.
“The architect’s efforts spent on the building at the current site were heroic,” said Councilor
. “They used an amazing number of creative ways to make a gigantic building blend in. I think they did as well as could be done. And yet it still appalled me how big it was for that neighborhood.”
Individual city councilors had previously stated their opposition to Option A, but the council had not taken a formal position.
Dunham asked the council to pass a resolution explicitly asking that the option be fully removed from the table.
“The pumping station handles sewage and stormwater infiltration from the city, [the University of Virginia] and the county’s growth area stretching as far away as North Fork,” Dunham said. “It is unfair to ask the Woolen Mills to carry the entire burden of the sewage generated by this large area.”
“My impression is that the sense of council is we’re in favor of Option E and completely opposed to Option A,” said Councilor
, who represents the city on the RWSA board, along with City Manager Maurice Jones and public works Director Judith Mueller.
The RWSA board of directors is scheduled to select an option at its meeting Nov. 22.The RWSA staff has not indicated a preference.
“I think the city has expressed their opinion, which they have an absolute right to do,” Frederick said in an interview after the vote. “I’m sure the county will do the same, and we’ll see how that turns out.”