By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, September 8, 2011
has accepted revised population estimates that will be used as part of the regional water supply plan being put together by the
Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority
, the firm hired by the RWSA to conduct water demand estimates for the plan, originally projected a Charlottesville population of 71,500 in the year 2060.
Download AECOM’s August 2011 water demand forecast
In early August, some city councilors said that number was too high. Since then, AECOM has worked with city and RWSA staff to develop new figures and concluded that an estimate of 63,482 was more realistic.
“I feel more comfortable with this,” Councilor
said late Tuesday during the council’s meeting. “We want density and we want growth within the city because that’s the kind of population growth we should be looking at rather than sprawl out across rural areas.”
In addition to population, AECOM’s forecast method evaluates employment projections, residential per capita water use and per employee water use. Baseline projections are then compared with other factors such as water conservation, use of efficient water fixtures, area comprehensive plans and potential fluctuations in population or employment.
The 2010 U.S. Census established a population of 43,475 residents within city limits. That figure includes 450 on-Grounds University of Virginia students who live in dormitories and 9,300 students living off-Grounds within the city. The non-student population of the city in 2010 was 33,725.
The city supplies water purchased from the RWSA to UVa, even though much of Grounds is technically in Albemarle County. In 2010, the city had a water service area population of 49,625 when on-Grounds students are included.
“Most people don’t think in [terms of] water service population,” said Troy Kincer, a project manager with AECOM. “Most people think in terms of demographics.”
The AECOM report said UVa’s Academic Facilities Planning Department is projecting an enrollment of around 31,000 students by the year 2060. More growth at UVa will mean more jobs. For instance, AECOM officials were told the UVa hospital would add 150 beds by 2030. The hospital’s current policy is to maintain a staff member per bed ratio of 10.9.
As result, the city’s water service population is projected by AECOM to grow to 72,642 in 2060.
Jim Tolbert, director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services department, said the estimates are just projections.
“The projections are trying to estimate  years out and we have not found a demographer yet that really thinks that’s anything you can do with any degree of accuracy,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert said he felt AECOM’s projections were feasible because of the potential for UVa to grow over the next 50 years.
“I feel that when we look at all those numbers as far as population, the current projection in 2060 of 63,442 is a more reasonable number than 71,000,” Tolbert said.
With the new population estimates, the new water demand figure for the urban service area in both Charlottesville and Albemarle is 16.96 million gallons a day for 2060, revised downward from 17.2 million MGD, according to Kincer.
When Mayor Dave Norris asked Kincer what the demand estimate is for 2055, Kincer said 16.17 MGD.
“We have a water supply plan that is premised on generating 18.7 MGD by 2055, and the new projection [of] 16.17 MGD is significantly less,” Norris said.
However, Kincer said the numbers he had quoted were for human consumption only, and did not factor in stream-flows required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and other non-human uses.
“Our objective here is not to come up and tell the city and the county what needs to happen,” Kincer said. “We just need to make sure that we are planning adequately.”
A joint public hearing will be held Tuesday to review the forecast. The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. at CitySpace by the City Council, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, the Albemarle County Service Authority and the RWSA.