By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 23, 2010


Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

Board of Directors has passed a resolution that would lower the wholesale rate for water sold to the city of



Albemarle County

, but increases the rate charged to the city for sewage treatment.

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The rates are part of a proposed $21.8 million operating budget for the next fiscal year, the second year in a row there has been a decrease in the overall budget.

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The RWSA bases its budget and rates on the amount of water and wastewater “flows” reported by each jurisdiction. Officials project Charlottesville will use 54 percent of the RWSA’s water next year, and that the Albemarle County Service Authority will use 46 percent. The city is expected to use 57 percent of the RWSA’s sewer capacity, with the county using 43 percent.The city of Charlottesville would be charged $2.438 per 1,000 gallons of water, a decrease of just under 1 percent. The Albemarle County Service Authority would be charged $3.305 per 1,000 gallons, a decrease of 0.49 percent.

It is not yet known whether the lower rates will automatically translate into direct savings for consumers.

Judy Mueller

, the city’s public works director, said in an interview that the city’s rates won’t be set until the City Council adopts its operating budget for next year.

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the RWSA’s executive director, said he cannot recall a time during his tenure when the RWSA has been able to lower any of its rates.

Download the proposed RWSA budget for FY2011

However, while the rate charged to the ACSA for sewer flows will also decrease, the rate for Charlottesville’s utilities division will increase by 3.38 percent.

Frederick said the proposed increase is linked to a formula established when the RWSA was formed in the 1970s. Each community shares a burden of the debt incurred by the RWSA for capital projects. This year, the RWSA will spend about a half million less on servicing debt for completed projects to enhance sewage treatment.

“We had some debt on the wastewater side that was retired,” Frederick said. “For debt service, the county is billed twice as high as the county … When the debt is retired, the county gets a bigger break.”

New regulations go into effect in January requiring the RWSA to reduce the amount of nutrients that are discharged into the Rivanna River, and hence the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The RWSA will spend more money on additional chemicals to accomplish this goal until the new Moore’s Creek facility is completed at the end of 2012.

RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

Despite that cost increase, as well as a rise in the cost of insurance premiums for RWSA employees, the proposed budget is 1 percent smaller than the current fiscal year. Savings were gained by eliminating two positions. An environmental safety officer position is currently vacant, and a clerk position will become redundant when a new septage receiving station opens later this year.RWSA employees will also receive no pay increase, keeping in line with both the city and the county.

A new Capital Improvement Program budget was not released Tuesday. Frederick told the board during the meeting that he wanted to wait until several studies related to the community water supply plan are completed later this spring. That will provide the community with revised cost estimates for a new dam at the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

, as well as the cost of dredging the


Fork Rivanna Reservoir


“We plan later this year as decisions are made to put out a new capital improvement plan,” Frederick said.

The RWSA Board of Directors will take action on the budget at its meeting in May, following a public hearing.

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