At their meeting on November 24, 2008, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors approved a resolution of intent that states the RWSA will pay Virginia back up to $33.3 million in loans that will be used to help pay for the now $52.7 million

upgrade of the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

.  Construction of the project is slated to start sometime next year.

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RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

There was no monthly report from RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick, and no other business was listed on the agenda. However, RWSA Board Member Gary Fern asked to pull three items off of the consent agenda, and RWSA Board Member Judy Mueller asked to pull another. Fern is the Executive Director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, and Mueller is Charlottesville’s Director of Public Works.

The first item pulled was RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick’s

report on on-going projects

. The report provided a status update on the proposed upgrade for Moores Creek, which will boost the facility’s ability to remove nutrients from the water it releases into the Rivanna River. The upgrade is necessary to help the RWSA comply with provisions in the Chesapeake Bay Act which require wastewater treatment plants to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that enter the watershed.

The firm Hazen and Sawyer is finalizing the design for project, which had a cost estimate of $52.7 million when the project reached the 75% design phase. The RWSA has applied for a grant from the

Virginia Water Quality Improvement

fund to pay for a portion of the project, and is applying for a loan from the

Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund

to pay for the rest in the short-term.  The resolution of intent to reimburse the state is required by the Internal Revenue Service.

Financing for two other capital projects, the Community Water Supply Plan and the Meadow Creek Interceptor project, remains unclear due to the decline in the bond markets.  RWSA financial staff will present short-term capital financing alternatives to the Board at their meeting in December.

Preliminary engineering drawring for the Moores Creek ENR project

The progress report mentioned that a

meeting between RWSA staff and potential contractors for the upgrade

had taken place on November 20, 2008. Gary Fern wanted to know what the interest level from contractors has been.  Bob Wichser, the RWSA’s Operations Director, said over two dozen contractors and subcontractors attended. That implies the actual cost of the project could be lower than the estimate if multiple firms are competing for the project during the economic slowdown.

“They’re very hungry,” Wichser said. RWSA Engineering Director Jennifer Whitaker said there are at least five contractors who are very interested, and have taken a tour of the facility. The RWSA will hold an open house for the public in early 2009.

Also of note in the report of on-going projects was a reference to a November 2008 deadline imposed on the RWSA by the

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

(DCR). The two existing dams at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir are operating under a “Class 1 Conditional Operating Certificates” because of their age and obsolete structural design.  To continue operating the dam, the RWSA had been required to submit design documents for the new Ragged Mountain Dam to DCR by the end of November Because that project is now on hold pending further direction from community officials, Frederick told Charlottesville Tomorrow that DCR staff are recommending a further 12-month extension to submit new designs, but will not likely extend the deadline to replace or strengthen the existing dams.

The final item discussed by the board related to review of a site plan for a 5 building complex to be built at the intersection of Route 250 and Luxor Road in the Pantops area. During review by st aff, they discovered that there was an opportunity to build extra capacity that would help the RWSA complete its Southern Loop Water Line. That project would eventually connect the Avon Street Tank and the Pantops Tank with an 18” water main, which would allow “finished” water to be transferred between the South Rivanna and Observatory water treatment plans without hydraulic restrictions. The developer is responsible for re-routing an existing 12” water main at a cost of $40,100, but the RWSA has agreed to pay an additional $9,250 to “over-size” the line to meet future capacity needs by building an 18” line now. If the developer and the Albemarle County Service Authority agree, the item will come back before the RWSA Board in December.


Sean Tubbs


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