The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has deferred action on wastewater odor controls and dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir because two of its Charlottesville representatives were not present at a meeting Tuesday.

The RWSA board was expected to vote on spending more than $200,000 to pay a firm to develop blueprints for the next phase of odor control measures at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. They were also scheduled to provide direction on how to proceed with dredging South Fork.

However, City Councilor Kathy Galvin could not attend due to a family emergency. City Manager Maurice Jones was out of town at a conference, leaving only Judith Mueller, director of public works, to represent Charlottesville on the seven-person board.

“Councilor Galvin told me she wanted to be present for the discussion on odor control,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the authority’s executive director.

Earlier this month, some city councilors expressed interest in reallocating $3.5 million in funding set aside to dredge the reservoir toward further odor control measures. While the council’s motion stopped short of that direct request, the topic was to have been discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

However, both conversations will be delayed until the RWSA’s next meeting on Oct. 30.

Frederick told the board that Hazen and Sawyer developed a master plan in 2007 that would remove 99 percent of the odor emanated by the Moores Creek plant for a cost of about $33 million.

So far, the RWSA has spent up to $4 million on the measures, though he said he would provide more details at the next meeting.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of what we’ve already spent,” said Gary O’Connell, executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, the agency that oversees the county’s water and sewer operations.

The first phase of mitigations were built as the Moores Creek plant was upgraded to reduce the amount of nutrients released into the Rivanna River watershed. This included automated wash-down systems, a fully covered septage receiving station and other items.

“Controls installed in the first phase have worked as designed, reducing odor emissions,” Frederick wrote in a staff report for the meeting. “However, our assessment confirmed that uncontrolled sources remain and there is a need to install the next phase.”

The next phase would partially involve more covers for clarifiers — the open-air tanks in which solid and liquid materials in the sewage are separated. This, plus several other items, will cost between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, according to Hazen and Sawyer.

However, the report for Tuesday’s meeting was prepared before the council’s direction to its city representatives to advocate for a higher level of odor control measures.

After Frederick suggested delaying the item, Mueller asked why they couldn’t move forward with spending the money to prepare the documents. Frederick explained that he needs to prepare directions for Hazen & Sawyer that are based on the wider conversation that has not yet occurred.

“If you do decide to move forward based on another scenario, we really need to start with the engineering,” Frederick told the board.

The RWSA also deferred further direction on the future of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

In August, officials with the Orion Marine Group said they would not complete their proposal because they could not work out an agreement to pay area landowners to store material dredged from the reservoir.

Frederick said Orion has suggested that the RWSA pursue a more traditional “design-bid-build” method if the board seeks to pursue dredging.

At their meeting in mid-September, some councilors said they no longer feel the need to dredge the South Fork. The primary location for water storage will shift to the enlarged Ragged Mountain Reservoir after a new earthen dam is completed next year.

“We came to that conclusion a long time ago,” said Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd.

The RWSA board did satisfy another requirement of the water supply agreement by authorizing $6.4 million to install meters to make a more accurate determination of how much water is used by the city and how much is used by the county.

In other news, bids for the Rivanna Pump Station have been advertised and proposals will be opened Nov. 6. The City Council has to agree to an easement to allow for a tunnel to be built from Riverview Park to the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
 

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