The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority has debated what to do about the Central Virginia water shortage for years. Expand the reservoirs? Build a new reservoir? Pipe water from the James River? Do nothing at all? In today’s Daily Progress, Jessica Kitchin breaks the news that the RWSA has decided to expand the Ragged Mountain reservoir and build a pipeline between it and the South Fork Rivanna reservoir. That will capture the 97% of the precipitation that flows right over the dam on the Rivanna and store it in the 133-acres-larger Ragged Mountain. No timeline is described in the article; presumably this will take many years. At $130.5M, it’ll certainly be expensive.
4 thoughts on “RSWA Decides: South Fork Pipeline”
This is one of those cases where citizen input really made a difference. The South Fork Pipeline was not on the original final list of proposals that came out last year. I’m pretty sure it was Bob Gilges of White Hall who first suggested it, and the group Friends of the Moorman’s River gathered names of supporters. RWSA was very good about taking community proposals seriously.
The impression I recieved is that the South Fork Pipeline was an ‘adaptation’ from the final proposals, a sort of ‘synthesis’ of them.
The RWSA would’ve had to spend money for mandated safety improvements on the Ragged Mountain Dam even if it wasn’t a part of the final solution. And the rub, as I always understood it, with the Ragged Mountain Dam as a stand-a-lone was it’s ability to replinish itself fast enough since it’s a ‘runoff’ dam (or lack thereof).
This way they get their pipeline (and it’s not to Scottsville), while maximizing the use of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir as the primary source of the urban area’s water supply (without causing the extinction of some specie of snail), and get to combine safety and height upgrades to the Ragged Mountain Dam (doing so all in one budget).
It’s a win win situation all the way around.
There’s an interesting problem with dams and reservoirs that most people don’t know about, which is the matter of evaporation. If you divert water to a holding reservoir, more of it evaporates. Evenif you don’t use any more water than you used to, there’s less to go around. There was once an ambitious proposal to dam this one valley in California, but someone showed that the amount of evaporation would increase so much that the effective water supply would decrease. It’s not always win-win.
Tim McCormack wrote:
But I’m just happy they’re not putting that pipeline down to the James River in the name of a water supply for Charlottesville and the urban area, but which would really be just an infrastructure freebie for developers who want to start heading down South 20.
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