By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A new phase of negotiations over the community water supply plan is underway now that the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

and the

Charlottesville City Council have agreed

on the new dam to be built at the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir


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County Attorney

Larry Davis

said Wednesday that negotiations will focus on two documents that must be finalized before the dam can be built.

“One will be the document that will acquire the property rights necessary to go forward,” said Davis.

The city owns the land surrounding the reservoir must grant easements to the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority for construction.

“The second is the cost-sharing agreement between the

Albemarle County Service Authority

, the city, and the

Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

,” he added.

The most recent agreement, adopted in 2003, states that the county will be responsible for 73 percent of capital improvements.

City councilors have repeatedly said they will only pay to replace existing infrastructure, and not to add new capacity. They have argued that only the county is expected to substantially grow over the next fifty years.

Both documents were discussed at a meeting earlier in the week between city, county and RWSA officials.

RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick addresses the Board of Supervisors

“One of the things that came out [at the meeting] is that the cost-allocation agreement is necessary before the city will act on the land use issue,” said

Thomas L. Frederick

, the RWSA’s executive director.

The plan’s implementation cleared a hurdle Wednesday when supervisors voted 5-1 on a resolution to accept council’s preference to build the new dam in two phases with an initial rise that would raise the pool level by 30 feet.

The Board had preferred to build the dam all at once to a full height of 42 feet.

Download resolution

“What we’re doing here is saying that we will agree to that approach, but we’ve got some provisos in here,” said Supervisor

Dennis Rooker

. “We want to make certain that the ultimate increase of that dam up to 42 feet is based upon some previously agreed upon objective criteria.”

Representatives from

Schnabel Engineering

told the RWSA board in January that 99 percent of the cost of the full-height dam would be spent on the first 30-foot increase. Overall cost estimates for the dam project range between $24.8 million and $28.4 million. The second phase would be an additional $1.45 million to $1.77 million.


Kenneth C. Boyd

was the lone vote against the resolution. He said he felt building the dam all at once would save money over the long term.

“I think this is a fiscally irresponsible approach for county citizens to take,” said Boyd.

But Rooker said a compromise was important to make sure the community can meet

an April 30 deadline imposed by the dam safety division of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation


“We have to eliminate these loose ends one at a time, and if you get [dam height] eliminated, the next one is the cost-sharing agreement and the property rights agreement,” said Rooker.


Ann Mallek

also said she could support a 30-foot pool rise as an interim step.

“Having a big bathtub at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir will really protect us during the low-water flow and allow our rivers to flow much more naturally,” she added.

City officials were unavailable to comment on this story.


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