By Sean Tubbs

Dexter Auction

Thursday, July 29, 2010

With the state casting doubt on the viability of a proposed alternative water supply plan for the region, Albemarle County’s representatives on the

Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

said Tuesday that they are ready to move forward with the plan adopted in 2006.

However, Charlottesville Mayor

Dave Norris

said the

City Council

is not yet ready to make that determination.

“I am not convinced that [it’s] the best path forward,” Norris said.

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The approved plan calls for a new dam to enlarge the

Ragged Mountain reservoir

as well as a new pipeline to connect it to the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

. To satisfy concerns the City Council has raised about the scope and cost of the plan, the RWSA commissioned a series of studies to re-examine all of its components.

Only three of these studies remain to be completed. In August, the RWSA Board will hear details of the Interstate 64 embankment study and a review of the 2004 demand analysis. Also next month, the City Council will receive the first phase of its independently commissioned study of repairing and extending the 1908 Lower Ragged Mountain Dam.

“The whole point of doing these studies was to say, ‘Are there other ways of meeting our long-term goals,’” Norris said. He said he wanted a summary that lists the costs and benefits of four or five alternatives to the current plan.

Albemarle County Supervisor

Kenneth C. Boyd

objected to listing that many options, given that the studies were commissioned to reaffirm the plan, and not to start from scratch.

“We have the numbers now, so we know what the costs are going to be,” Boyd said. He said he and his board are convinced that a combination of dredging the South Fork reservoir and expanding the existing Lower Ragged Mountain Dam would not provide water to meet the target of 18.7 million gallons a day by 2055.

“I can tell you that the Board of Supervisors is solidly behind the plan we decided on in 2006,” Boyd said. “Everything we’ve done so far has just reinforced that that’s the best way to go.”

Albemarle County Service Authority Executive Director

Gary O’Connell

said his board was also prepared to move forward.

The discussion comes after a draft report from the Department of Environmental Quality

cast doubt on the ability of dredging combined with renovations to the existing Ragged Mountain dam to meet the required long-term water needs

. Norris had suggested in February 2009 that instead of building a new dam, the existing dam could be raised by 13 feet to provide sufficient water storage at a potentially lower cost.

Boyd asked Norris on Tuesday if the City Council could decide in August whether to move ahead with the approved plan. Norris said he was unsure when the council would be able to discuss the matter but that it would do so when all studies are complete.

“I’m not interested in delaying this any longer than necessary,” Norris said.

In other water supply news, further revisions of

the design for an earthen dam at Ragged Mountain

have enabled Schnabel engineers to lower the size of the full dam by 3 feet, while still allowing 2,189 million gallons of storage. This reduces the number of trees that will need to be removed by 3 acres, according to RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr.


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