The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors gave the go-ahead this week for staff to enter into negotiations with a Houston-based company to dredge a portion of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir for maintenance purposes.

If the negotiations result in a contract, Orion will be paid $3.5 million to dredge sections of the reservoir that were identified in a bathymetric survey conducted by HDR Engineering.

“Based on investigations presented by HDR, the estimated quantity is approximately 300,000 cubic yards,” reads Orion’s project proposal.
Orion estimates that the project will increase the amount of water storage at the reservoir by 60 million gallons.
Under the process, Orion will use a 14-inch hydraulic cutter suction dredge to remove the sediment. The material will be pumped to a disposal facility that will be built at the nearby Panorama Farm. As part of a dewatering process, the water will be piped back into the reservoir.
The staging area for the operations will be at the University of Virginia’s rowing facilities.
The project will require permits to be acquired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Albemarle County.

Orion’s proposal assumes that the material is not harmful and that recreational activities on the reservoir will not be affected.
“The project’s success is contingent on RWSA’s ability to budget an estimated $3.5 M for project construction,” reads the proposal. “The project’s success is contingent on being able to successfully dewater without the use of coagulants, polymers, or other chemicals.”
The opening letter of the proposal begins with a testimonial for how qualified the company is to perform dredging operations.
“OMCI has access to over 260 vessels and specialized equipment including but not limited to over 74 spuds barges, 49 tug and push boats, 7 cutter suction dredges and booster pumps, 3 portable cutter suction dredges (with enough booster pumps and piping to transport slurry over 60,000 feet), 70 crawler and hydraulic cranes, and heavy duty earth moving equipment,” wrote Curtis Huggins, the vice president of OMCI.
One of Orion’s recent dredging projects was a $7.5 million contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the James River from Norfolk to Richmond in order to keep a federal navigation channel open.
The request for proposals for the dredging was issued in February and the RWSA received three submissions. Only Orion’s proposal met the guidelines.
Blue Ridge Sand submitted a proposal but was rejected because it was not complete.
“We received a fax … saying [our] proposal was not going to be evaluated further due to some missing information,” said Mitch King, of Blue Ridge Sand, at the RWSA’s meeting Wednesday.
“I’m asking that the board direct staff not to proceed with that evaluation in a way that would preclude Blue Ridge Sand from being properly evaluated.”
Kurt Krueger, attorney for the RWSA, explained the situation to board members that Blue Ridge Sand’s financial information had not been included in its proposal and still had not been submitted by Wednesday.
“[Financial information] was not submitted in a timely manner by Blue Ridge,” Krueger said. “I point out that the RFP language itself said that it’s the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the RWSA receive the proposal submittal by the proposal due date and time … The issue that we have here is that if we allow Blue Ridge a pass on this one, then anyone else can submit a proposal today, tomorrow.”
If the RWSA decides to move ahead with the project, Orion estimates dredging would take between 25 and 39 months to complete, including the permitting, surveying and construction.
The RWSA board will make a decision whether to proceed later this year.