The Albemarle County Service Authority and the city of Charlottesville will not meet a self-imposed deadline to enter into a cost-share agreement for the replacement of the Rivanna sewer pump station.
When the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s board of directors voted 4-3 in December to select a location for the pump station, it also set a June 30 deadline to determine how the cost of the $40 million project would be shared.
All three of Albemarle’s representatives on the board voted against the option because they favored replacing the station at its existing location adjacent to the city’s Riverview Park. That option had a cost estimate of $27 million.
We knew of no engineering reason to move it to another site and the cost of moving it was very large,” said Liz Palmer, a member of the ACSA’s board. “We thought we could design it so that it was acceptable to the community at its present site and save ratepayers $13 million.”
Instead, the station will be moved onto land at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. A 2,000-foot-long tunnel will carry sewage to the new station via a route that will go underneath Riverside Avenue and other roads.
The station’s replacement is one of several items mandated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The new pump station will be able to handle a peak capacity of 53 million gallons a day. The existing station cannot handle large volumes of stormwater, leading to sewage spills into the Rivanna River.
The RWSA charges the city and county different wholesale rates based on the percentage of flow from each community. If a specific agreement is not in place, the cost-share for new infrastructure is based on that percentage.
However, cost-share agreements are often implemented for major items, such as the new Ragged Mountain Dam.
In January, the city and county agreed to a cost-share agreement in which Charlottesville ratepayers would only pay for 15 percent of the new dam and 20 percent for a new pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.
Gary O’Connell, executive director of the ACSA, said his agency was busy adopting a budget for fiscal year 2013.
“We agreed a month ago we were going to miss the target,” O’Connell said. “We’re close to getting a proposal to send to the city and hopefully we will begin discussions pretty quickly.”
City Manager Maurice Jones had no comment, except to say he and his staff are waiting to receive a letter from the ACSA.
In other news, the RWSA board met Tuesday for the first time in a year and a half at its headquarters at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The facility has undergone a $48.4 million upgrade and will be rededicated at a July 10 ceremony.
“There were several major things that we accomplished,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA. “One was the reduction of nutrients in wastewater, which is big for the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We also upgraded worn-out equipment because the facility has not been kept up to date.”
Another addition is a generator that can produce electricity from the wastewater process. The energy will be used on-site at the treatment plant.
“We’ve calculated that will reduce our carbon footprint by about 30 percent,” Frederick said.
However, the plant’s nutrient removal technology was not implemented in time to meet DEQ’s more stringent requirements to reduce phosphorous. The RWSA had to purchase $133,400 worth of credits to the Virginia Nutrient Credit Exchange in order be in compliance.
That situation has been resolved.
“With all nutrient removal facilities now in operation, effluent quality is excellent and we are operating well below the state allotment for both nitrogen and phosphorus,” Frederick said.
Also on Tuesday, the RWSA board agreed to give Frederick a 4 percent raise and an $8,000 bonus for overseeing the implementation of the community water supply plan.