By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, May 19, 2011

When the

Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

meets next week, the executive director of the

Albemarle County Service Authority

will ask for further study of several potential locations for a new pump station.

“We should keep all these options alive and do some basic study on them so [the community] can continue to do some comparison [between] them,”

Gary O’Connell

said Thursday.

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Plans are being drawn up to replace the existing pump station in order to comply with an order from the Department of Environmental Quality to stop raw sewage from flowing into the Rivanna River and other local waterways after heavy storms.

The DEQ consent order requires the RWSA to select a site by Dec. 31. Four official options have been advanced, and others are still being developed.

Download RWSA Consent Order

However, Charlottesville city councilors have said they will not support a plan to replace the station at its current location in the

Woolen Mills

neighborhood, nor will they support a plan to build one on nearby RWSA property adjacent to the

Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant


The latter would require digging a 30-foot-deep trench through the backyards of about five homes in Woolen Mills in order to extend the existing sewer line.

Instead, the council said Monday that it only wanted further study of a plan to move the station across the Rivanna River into Albemarle, as well as an option to drill a 2,000-foot-long tunnel to extend the sewer line to the Moores Creek facility while minimizing the neighborhood impact.

O’Connell suggested that further study of the existing site, known as Option A, could involve working with Woolen Mills residents to address their concerns.

“Could [the station] go further underground? Could it stay on the existing [RWSA] property? Is there a way to take advantage of that site?” O’Connell asked.

O’Connell said Option A is likely to be the least expensive option, with a preliminary cost estimate of $25 million. The proposal to move the facility across the river has a preliminary cost estimate of $34 million, and the proposal to move it down the river has a preliminary cost of $37 million.

O’Connell said those estimates could all rise as more study is done, especially if they require drilling through rock.

ACSA board members acknowledged that the city would be opposed to further study of expanding the station at its current location.

“I know the city doesn’t want Option A on the table, but because the ultimate decision is going to be based on looking at the alternatives rather than picking the ideal thing, we need to advocate for keeping A on the table,” said ACSA member

Liz Palmer


Palmer said doing so would be contingent on directing the consultant to place the new facility as far underground as possible, as well as giving consideration to making it as “architecturally as attractive as possible.”

Board member Bill Kittrell suggested that a design challenge could be conducted to find a solution for Option A that would be supported by the neighborhood.

“Give [designers] a challenge to come up with some ideas that might meet these very restrictive set of circumstances which, in society as a whole, aren’t going away as our communities grow and evolve and these types of situations pop up in urbanized areas,” Kittrell said.

Since Sunday, more than 4 inches of rain have fallen in the community, according to data from the National Weather Service. That amount has overwhelmed the RWSA’s sewer system.

“The volume of water coming into the wastewater plant was beyond the physical capability of the plant to treat, resulting in 5.3 million gallons [of sewage] flowing into Moores Creek,”

Thomas L. Frederick

Jr., the RWSA’s executive director, wrote in an email.

“Treatment plant operators performed well to the extent the existing infrastructure is capable, which is verification for the need for the capital improvement program we are trying to implement,” Frederick added.

The RWSA’s most

recent capital budget

, adopted in October, calls for $122 million in projects to repair and upgrade its sewer lines. That includes $25 million for the new pump station, as well as an upgrade of the Moores Creek plant to store more stormwater for later treatment.


01:00 – Clarence Roberts calls the meeting to order and recognizes employees for their service

05:30 – ACSA Executive Director Gary O’Connell recognizes Lisa Breeden

07:30 – Public comment from John Martin

11:00 – Discussion of consent agenda

15:00 – Discussion of FY2012 ACSA budget

24:30 – Liz Palmer objects to ACSA joining the Chamber of Commerce

38:00 – Update on earthen dam design and permitting

43:00 – Update on Rivanna pump station

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