Quarry Owners ISO Dredged Soil

The latest installment in the ongoing reservoir saga comes from Dominion Development Resources, who has offered to take all of the dredged-out dirt from the reservoir and put it in the old quarry off Rio Mills Road, Hawes Spencer writes in The Hook. The fourteen-acre quarry is seventy feet deep, so it could store a metric pantload of sediment. For those who had no idea about the quarry, it’s in the center of this map:

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You’ll notice it’s immediately next to the reservoir — only about 3,000 feet away. DDR investor Charles Hurt owns the quarry, and would dump the sediment there as a part of a $24-29M deal to do the dredging themselves. My personal business dealings with DDR a year ago were ghastly (which I mention only because I’m one of the 350 clients they cite as evidence of their competence), but perhaps a job in the spotlight like this would be handled a little better. To catch up on the whole reservoir-dredging story, check out the sidebar on The Hook’s story, which runs down the whole history.

36 thoughts on “Quarry Owners ISO Dredged Soil”

  1. I was greatly disappointed to read that the entire BoS has publicly come out in full support of the current plan and to only consider maintenance dredging. I have always admired both Boyd’s and Thomas’ approach to making decisions for the county, but I guess they are more focused right now on the land use issue and do not want to be distracted.

  2. I am kind of shocked at the podcast I heard with Hawes Spencer and Jeff Werner. I’ve heard Werner speak before and thought him very thoughtful; this time he appears to be quite shrill. This new proposal puts his defense of dredging in an awkward light.

  3. Jeff Werner has forgotten more about the water issues in this town than Hawes has ever learned, or made up… and while he may have sounded shrill, he’s probably right.

  4. “…he’s probably right.” Sounds like somebody’s not quite sure. I always find blind allegiance amusing when it comes to problem solving int eh adult world.

  5. “Jeff Werner has forgotten more about the water issues in this town than Hawes has ever learned,…” I hope he starts remembering some of it before we embark upon this idiot plan.

  6. Hardly blind allegiance with the “probably” qualifier.

    I’m no expert on the water plans, but knowing both guys, I feel comfortable leaning towards one over the other on this issue.


  7. I hired them to survey a 31 acre parcel owed by my wife’s family and take care of the several rounds of paperwork for a family subdivision. My primary contact there became ill (cancer, though he’s fine now, thankfully), and the company was totally unable to take over for him. Months went by in which I couldn’t get anybody to return my calls. Each time I called it was like I was totally new to them. People kept quitting, being fired, or going on long vacations. In the span of two weeks I went through six different people as people left the company or left on vacations. (At one point, their sole surveyor licensed to sign off on any land surveys for county approval left on a two-week vacation without signing any of our paperwork.) Each of the six people promised to get back to me within a day or so, none ever did, and I had to start over from scratch with the next person each time. When they finally finished, months later than they were supposed to, it was October, too late to begin construction, requiring that the entire project be put off until May, to the great dissatisfaction of the contractors.

    To their credit, they did one thing right. When this was all finished, they sent me a final bill for another grand. It wasn’t for work they’d done, but for work that they could have done, under the contract. So I called and talked to yet another person, to whom I’d explained that this was the single worst experienced that I’d ever had with a business, and that what would push me over the edge from being a dissatisfied former customer to an irate former customer would be paying a thousand bucks for absolutely nothing, given how badly they’d screwed this up. They agreed to waive that final bill, which was good. (That’s the short version. In fact, it took two phone calls. After the first one I was told to ignore any future invoices, and promised that somebody would get back to me. Months later, after a few ignored invoices, I finally got a note warning me that they’d turn me over to a collection agency if I didn’t pay. I called back and got the same “we’ve never heard of you or the person you say you talked to before” schtick, but everything was settled nicely by the next day.)

    By way of disclaimer, all of this is from memory. Numbers of phone calls, dollar values, etc. are as close as I can recall, but you get the idea. It was hugely unpleasant.

  8. There is no question that the environmental community (including myself) got played when Ragged Mountain was chosen as the preferred alternative. There are even a few well meaning folks like Jeff who still believe that this was an idea put forward by environmentalists. This email from Mike Gaffney, shortly after the RMR solution was put forward, ought to dispel that idea.

    All of us environmentalist types were so busy congratulating ourselves about the Ragged Mountain solution and how we had saved the community from an expensive growth subsidy (the James River pipeline), that we forgot to ask ourselves how we nearly got sold down the river in the first place.

    The reason that Ragged Mountain looked like such a good solution in 2005 is that Gannett Fleming told us over and over again that dredging was prohibitively expensive. If you still believe that dredging would cost $223 million dollars, then yes, enlarging Ragged Mountain and pumping 25 million gallons per day, nine and half miles and 300 feet uphill still looks somewhat reasonable. But now we know that these outrageous claims of dredging costs simply do not hold water. When we can restore the South Fork to its original condition for 24 million dollars or less, suddenly that 142 million dollars of shiny new pumps and pipes and concrete doesn’t look like such a bargain.

    This community used to believe in something called sustainability, which is why dredging was part of our original 2002 water supply plan (which we have been paying for by the way, even though nothing has been done in six years). When we originally hired Gannett Fleming in 2003, part of their job description was to do the engineering for dredging. Three months later, they told the Rivanna board it would be too expensive (back then, too expensive meant 42 million dollars). Next they told the board that raising the South Fork reservoir with a four foot bladder (also part of their original job description) was unlikely to get permitted. So what should we do? Two years and millions of dollars in consulting fees later and the answer is … surprise! Dams and pipelines! How convenient!

    Some of us were not convinced that dams and pipelines were the answer, and I give Jeff credit for being one of those folks. Sally Thomas and Dennis Rooker also deserve a lot of credit for not swallowing the company line (and more recently others on Council and BOS have raised similar questions). Why not dredge we asked? It solves most of our water supply problem and other communities are doing it much cheaper. When we asked, Gannett Flemming came up with more hand waving, increased the dredging estimate again (and again), and then sent us a bill for their troubles.

    What Gannett Fleming never told the public, or the Rivanna board for that matter (at least not according to the records we FOIA’ed) was that while they were blowing smoke up our collective asses about the prohibitive costs of dredging, two dredging firms with operations in Virginia had come forward with proposals for doing the job at a fraction of the cost. Dock Doctors and Blue Ridge Sand both deserve credit for trying to creatively solve the problem. But their proposals never saw the light of day. If it were not for the reporting of the Hook we never would have known about them. While Hawes may not be a “water expert”, he has done a whole lot more actual work to solve the dredging question than any number of people who got paid with our water bills to supposedly solve the problem, and we should thank him for this.

    When we saw the proposals of Dock Doctors and Blue Ridge Sand in the FOIA’ed documents of Rivanna, we were naturally outraged. How did this happen we asked? Why hasn’t Gannett Flemming been fired for this? What other cost numbers in our water plan might also be misstated by an order of magnitude? For some reason, instead of answers from the Rivanna board, all we got was talking points. “Well, those proposals are old now …. The price of diesel has gone up … the land they were going to buy for storage is no longer for sale … the airport might not need a new runway after all … too late, you missed your chance for questions … full steam ahead with the Emperor’s New Water Plan!”

    Now we have a new proposal from a local consortium of firms with plenty of expertise, capital, a good site for dewatering and long term storage capacity if necessary. And these arent the only folks looking at how to solve the problem. I believe that with a competitive bidding process and better information on the sediment composition, we can get the initial cost of dredging below 20 million dollars. If we build forbays to capture the incoming sand, gravel and clay where it can be easily removed, the value of the material could pay for future maintenance for the next 50 years. Dredging the material costs around 7 dollars a yard. Sand for concrete sells for 30-40 dollars a yard. Gravel for asphalt is around 15-20 dollars a yard. The airport is planning to spend 12 dollars a yard for fill. Do the math.

    By dredging the South Fork Reservoir and keeping it properly maintained we can add 5.5mgd of capacity to our system. That’s more than half of the 50 year water need, even if you believe Gannett Fleming’s inflated water demand estimates which overstate future population, understate conservation in a drought and ignore the fact that for the past ten years our water demand has actually been dropping as we have become more efficient in our use of water. If you take these factors into account, dredging can easily provide two thirds of our 50 year need – maybe more.

    So why isnt the latest proposal by DDR great news? Why arent public officials talking about which parts of our expensive 142 million dollar water supply system are now no longer necessary? About how we can reduce our environmental footprint at a very reasonable cost? Maybe even lower the water rate? Why indeed?

    The answer my friends is that even when they don’t realize it, bureaucracies love to grow. Government bureaucracies especially! Bigger pipes, bigger dams, pumps and bigger water bills make for bigger paychecks and bigger departments. Bigger desks! Bigger toys! Bigger pension plans. The board of Rivanna is four bureaucrats and a developer. That’s a recipe for a cash burnin’ clear cuttin’ dam buildin’ high water pumping machine! Toss Gannett Fleming and a 30 million dollar cash reserve (thanks ratepayers!) into the mix and now the embiggening machine is running on all cylinders and belching smoke. And the best part is (depending on your perspective of course) none of them are accountable to the public!

    Fortunately, the Rivanna board IS accountable to the elected officials (at least in theory – in practice this doesn’t seem to always happen). And the elected officials are accountable to the public. Which is you.

    If you are tired of seeing your water bill being used to finance a New Deal program for bureaucrats and consultants, please come to Monday’s City Council meeting and go to the next Board of Supervisors meeting. Tell them that they’ve been stalling long enough! Its time to move forward on dredging now – starting with a sediment survey right now and followed by a request for bids to restore the reservoir to its original storage as soon as the survey is done. They can call it maintenance or restoration or whatever else they want to call it as long as they call it done! Otherwise prepare to pay dearly for the next 15 years while Rivanna’s board builds their pipe dreams at your expense.

  9. That is a hugely interesting and informative comment, Kevin. (Much moreso than me kvetching about DDR’s surveying. :) Thanks for that!

  10. I found both of the previous posts interesting. Waldo, sounds like the real bosses were away and the employees thoroughly incapable of functioning without them.

  11. Well, the period during which things went so badly was about five months, so it would have had to be a really, really long vacation. :)

  12. Since when does the Nature Conservancy fund its projects by taxing needy residents who can afford it the least? The $143 million dollar water plan is not just about water, it’s about restoring flow to the Moormans River, which would be a good thing. But the huge cost of this project will be paid for by water rate increases in Charlottesville and the urban ring in the county. Most county residents (including those who will benefit most directly from the increased flow to the Moormans) will not pay a dime. This is especially problematic when we can meet virtually all of our long-term water needs by dredging the South Fork reservoir for $120 million less than the Nature Conservancy’s plan. Wake up, everybody, just because this plan has “Nature Conservancy” stamped on it does not mean it is in the best interests of the community, especially the part of the community who will actually pay for it.

  13. Anyone for handcuffing themselves to the dam until RWSA/O’Connell come to their senses?

  14. Kevin’s post is really interesting and I know supporters of the dam-and-pipeline plan are taking this very, very personally, for some reason. Having a journalist like Spenser stir it all up is one thing, but there must be something else. Money, or some other benefit, or is it just that the plans are in motion and is a lot of work to change them? I would suspect some kind of land interest in northwestern Albemarle, but the South Fork dam would remain either way, backing up water into Ivy Creek, etc. Maybe it’s that business about freeing up more water to flow into the upper Mormons from the Sugar Hollow dam. The pipeline from Sugar Hollow to Ragged Mtn. is supposedly wearing out, and the only other use for the Sugar Hollow dam is to store water for later release downstream to the South Fork reservoir, so some activists may have had a long-term glimmer to set the upper Mormons free. ??

    By the way, the Rivanna above the demolished Woolen Mills dam is spectacular now, all the way up to Free Bridge. Who would have thought it would become such a pretty, babbling brook? All I read from Roger Voisinet and other opponents was that, after 200 years, it would just be a muddy mess. Instead it is a fine, fast-running thing that looks like a trout stream. I don’t mention it as any argument about the pipeline thing, but just to recommend people go see it. The river plays a very small part in Cville life, and certainly not commercially. Maybe that is a good thing, but damn that Autozone should be a restaurant or something.

  15. damn that Autozone should be a restaurant or something.

    Absolutely. I’m disappointed that no riverside development has taken place in Charlottesville. It would be great to see the area around the High/Long intersection built up as a mini pedestrian mall, with enough shops and restaurants along the water’s edge for it to be a viable destination. Seems to me most people have no idea that a river runs through town.

  16. First of all, Kevin rightly deserves credit for bringing attention to this issue and many othe important environmental issues in the County/city). I certainly appreciate the good work he’s done.

    That said, I also feel it is important that our community doesn’t go from one hasty judgement to another. It is ironic that some people are saying that we should allow the Mormons River to die so that we can save a bunch of forest. In terms of diversity, alowing that river to flow is also critical. Mollusks, invertebrates and fish may not be a sexy as trees but they play a key role in our ecology.

    Also, I think it also important for us to consider that removing the sediment and placing it elsewhere also has significant potential environmental impacts. Size of land doesn’t tell you anything about biodiversity or ecological importance. We can speak about acres lost at Ragged Mountain, but it is equally important to know what species wil be affected. Likewise, what rare species might be affected by dredging and depositing such a large amount of fill? As a totally hypothtical example, what if the place the airport wanted to fill with the dredged material harbored species that occured nowhere else in the county?

    I had a professor once who said the number one commandment of environmental conservation should be “Do no harm”. From that perspective, I think we need to seriously weigh Kevin’s ideas and other ideas in the community and use good science and engineering research to come to the best possible conclusion… that is, the one that does the least amount of harm. It is vital to that process that we keep an open mind and don’t draw our conclusions before we have all the data.

  17. Colfer, agreed about how they’re taking this personally. Very odd. I understand that people are emotionally invested in this plan after so much hard work. And perhaps some folks are financially invested too through easements etc. But the evidence now shows that some backroom stuff went on, facts were skewed, and important information was actively withheld from the decision-making process. Because of that, we need to revisit that process and open the floor to other sound and less expensive options.

    I hope that the Council, BOS, PEC, TNC, and RCS will support an investigation into what went wrong with the bidding, rather than trying to ram their plan through quickly after so many questions have now been raised. If I were them I’d be pretty pissed about how it went down, and want that cleared up first. It’s a 50-year plan. What’s the rush? If the plan is sound and robust, it will survive having some sunlight thrown on it.

    Re riverside development: Yeah the Autozone being there stinks. The Woolen Mills neighborhood has a good share of Rivanna frontage, and we support whatever promotes safe and green recreation and eco-tourism in that area. We are very concerned about the future of Pantops and the E High corridor and are keeping a close eye on things as they develop. Great to know that others in the community concur!

  18. Good Questions – we can definitely create a better plan building on dredging and still greatly improve the health of the Moormans River (I apologize if the following doesnt come out too well as HTML – email me if you want a pdf that is easier to read)

    First, lets start by looking at the costs for the existing scheme from the permit support document.

    Ragged Mountain Dam – 45 foot increase $36,450,000
    SFRR to RMR 36 inch Pipeline, pump stations, pretreatment $55,350,000
    RMR to Observatory Pipeline (30 inch) $8,550,000
    Observatory WTP Upgrade to 10mgd $21,300,000
    South Fork upgrade to 16mgd $9,000,000
    50-Year Raw Water Pumping Cost (Electricity) $12,300,000
    Total Project Cost $142,850,000

    Note there are several major expenses missing from the $142 million estimate [1], including:
    – The annual cost of chemicals used for turbidity removal (sodium permanganate, aluminum suIfate, polymer, and caustic soda)
    – Annual costs for removing the resulting sludge
    – Maintenance for the pumps and pipeline.
    – No budget for “maintenance” dredging (even though everyone now says that this will happen)
    – Pipeline easement costs may be off by as much as 10-fold. They assume $10 per linear foot (or 40 cents a square foot for a 25’ wide permanent easement, plus an additional 15’ for construction). Thats an average of $3772 for each of 66 properties.
    – It is not assured that the pipeline can be laid across the bypass right of way as assumed in the estimate, especially if the road is not built and VDOT proposes a “sell back”

    So what can we do to create an alternative plan that is less expensive and less environmentally damaging? Fortunately, we have several better options. We start by looking at the assumptions about the demand goals in the current scheme.

    Gannett Fleming’s demand figures are based on several erroneous numbers [2]
    – Population projection for 2055 is 7% higher than the accepted VEC projections
    – Demand is based on a 5% conservation target – our adopted local plan uses 10-15%
    – Projection used a baseline calculated from 2001 demand data (11.08 mgd). Since then, conservation has caused our water demand to DROP to 9.98 mgd in 2007

    Using the adjusted ‘reality based’ demand data
    – reduces the 2055 demand from 18.7 mgd to 16.2 mgd
    – reduces the projected 50 year deficit from 9.9 mgd to 7.4 mgd

    This does not require any radical conservation effort. It simply brings our projected demand in line with common sense and historical observations. It would certainly be possible to be a lot more aggressive with conservation, but reducing by 2.5 mgd is simply trimming the fat.

    Now we know that by dredging the South Fork Reservoir to its original capacity and keeping it maintained, we can increase the 2055 safe yield by 5.5mgd. Even if we just “maintenance” dredge to maintain the reservoir at its current level (which everyone now claims will happen, although there is no money in the current budget) we will increase the 2055 safe yield by 3.2mgd.

    So, given that dredging is an affordable and environmentally responsible way to gain 5.5 mgd of safe yield by 2055, how do we make up the additional 1.9mgd to meet the 2055 demand. Or, if we insist on returning to our water hogging ways of the 1990’s (as Gannett Flemming advocates) how do we make up the additional 4.4 mgd?
    Elements which can be used to create additional safe yield

    Most of these elements have been analyzed as part of the alternative analyses and were rejected because they did not by themselves fulfill the 50 year safe yield objective. However, combined with 5.5 mgd from dredging they can meet the need with less cost and less environmental impact

    – Further Demand reduction beyond 2.5mgd [3] – Cost: $2.5M Yield: 1.5mgd
    – Dead Storage Drawdown from SFFR [4] – Cost: $1M. Yield: 1.0 to 1.5mgd
    – Release from Beaver Creek [5] – Cost: $500,000 Yield: 0.8 to 1.3mdg
    – Release from Lake Albemarle [5] – Cost: $500,000 Yield: 0.7 mgd
    – 5 foot drawdown from Chris Green Lake [5] – Cost: $500,000 Yield: 0.5 mgd
    – Dredge beyond original SFRR contours [6] – Cost: $7M per mgd Yield: 0.5 to 2.0mgd
    – Raise RMR to 13 feet on existing base [7] – Cost: $11M Yield: 1.8 mgd
    – Raise RMR to 13 feet on new base [7] – Cost: $20M Yield: 1.8 mgd
    – Raise RMR to 19 feet on new base [7] – Cost: $28M Yield: 3.0 mgd

    It should be obvious that there are a number of ways that the above options can be combined to provide the additional 1.9 mgd. Choosing the best combination is a matter of prioritizing community values. However any combination of these elements is less expensive and less environmentally damaging than the current scheme.

    Other Elements which would need to be part of a 50 year plan

    South Fork WTP upgrade – The existing scheme anticipates that the SFRR WTP will be upgraded to 16mgd, with a budgeted cost for this project is $9M, which we believe is appropriate. Depending on the options chosen, it may be desirable to increase the capacity to 18mdg at a cost of $12M.

    Observatory WTP upgrade – The existing scheme anticipates that this WTP will be upgraded from 4mgd to 10mgd, with a budgeted cost of $21.3M, which we believe is excessive. We believe that the WTP should either be renovated at its current capacity at a cost of $6M or, if RMR is expanded, the WTP should be expanded to either 6mgd at a cost of $10M or to its currently permitted capacity of 7mgd, at a cost of $12M. These figures are based on similar expansions which have occurred at SFRR WTP, and allowing for inflation.

    RMR to Observatory Pipeline – The existing scheme anticipates that this pipeline will be upgraded from 18 inches to 30 inches, with a budgeted cost of $8.5M, which we believe is excessive. We believe that the pipeline should either be replaced at its current capacity at a cost of $4M or, if RMR is expanded, the pipeline should be upgraded to 24 inches (to carry up to 7mgd) at a cost of $6M.

    Pipeline to Fill Ragged Mountain Reservoir – The existing scheme anticipates that the current pipeline from Sugar Hollow will be replaced with a new 36 inch pipeline, pumps and pretreatment facility with a total capital cost $55M and operational costs of $12.3M. We believe that this is fiscally and environmentally reckless and that these costs do not reflect the true costs of the project [1]. We believe that the pipeline should either be replaced at its current capacity at a cost of $16.2M or expanded to 24 inches (which would carry up to 7mgd) at a cost of $20M. Our cost numbers are based on Gannett Flemming’s raw pipeline cost of $13M for an 18 inch pipe. Because the pipeline can be built in existing right of way and is essentially a replacement project which can be put out to bid with little additional engineering, we used a multilipier of 1.25 instead of the usual 1.5 which Gannett Flemming uses for engineering and ‘contingencies’.
    What About the Moormans River and other Steam Flows?

    We believe that the current ‘voluntary’ release of 0.4mgd is not environmentally responsible and we are committed to maintaining at least the minimum flows specified in the DEQ permit of 2mgd. (note – to increase minimum instream flow in the Moormans by 1.6mgd requires that we allocate approximately 0.5mgd of safe yield for this purpose). We also propose that our drought conservation plan should be modified so that during the “voluntary” stages of drought response, half of all community water reduction beyond the 5 percent reduction anticipated by the plan shall be returned to the Moormans River. We believe this will result in a likely additional flow of at least 1mgd to the Moormans as well as greater participation by the community during voluntary drought restrictions.

    We do not however believe that the community should take no drinking water at all from the Moormans, as the current scheme anticipates. We have repeatedly been told by the Virginia Department of Health [8] that the Moormans river is by far our cleanest source of water and should be utilized to its maximum extent. All other sources of water in our system except the Moormans are rated “highly susceptible to contamination”. By diverting some of the Moormans while it is still clean, we have better quality drinking water and cheaper cost of treatment. It’s interesting that during all this debate about preserving the health of aquatic species, the health of human species has been totally ignored. Furthermore, while a stated goal of the current scheme is to restore the natural flow of the Moormans, the reality is a little different. The watershed for the Moormans is high and steep, which means that the natural condition of the river is very flashy. During a storm it becomes a raging flood and then it slows to a trickle. While the current plan keeps the Sugar Hollow dam in place for flood control purposes, in a drought the water behind the dam is released into the river where it augments the natural flow on its way to the South Fork reservoir (picking up e coli, fertilizer, and other contaminants on its way). So rather than providing natural flow to the Moormans, the current scheme is more like a theme park river – not too dangerous when it rains and has an unnaturally elevated amount water when it would normally be dry.

    We do believe that flow gauges should be put on the Moormans River and Rivanna Rivers at once. It is outrageous that for the past six years while we have talked about restoring the Moormans River to something closer to its original flow, nothing has been done to actually measure the natural flow. All of our “data” concerning what we think the natural flow of the Moormans ought to be is based on the Mechums river – a river with very different flow characteristics than the Moormans.

    So what are some better alternatives?

    So back to the question of how much does an alternative plan cost? One possible “Best Case” scenario to meet the 50 year need of 16.2 mgd is broken out as follows:

    Repair Ragged Mountain Dam Spillway at existing height $4,000,000
    Restoration Dredging of initial 2 million yards $24,000,000
    Build forebays and periodic maintenance dredging for 50 years $15,000,000
    Install Flow control valves on Beaver Creek Reservoir $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Lake Albemarle $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Chris Green Lake for 5’ drawdown $500,000
    Dead Storage drawdown from SFRR $1,000,000
    RMR to Observatory Pipeline replace at 18 inch $4,000,000
    Observatory WTP Renovate at 4mgd $6,000,000
    South Fork WRP upgrade to 16mgd $9,000,000
    Sugar Hollow to RMR pipeline – replace at 18 inch $16,200,000
    Total Project Cost $80,700,000

    This combination of projects provides a safe yield of 17.3 mgd. This is enough to meet the 2055 demand, keep at least 2mdg of MIF in the Moormans river and still have 0.6mgd of reserve. Note that Beaver Creek, Lake Albemarle and Chris Green Lake provide a total of 2.0mgd, using the most conservative of the numbers provided in Gannett Fleming’s Alternative Analysis. These sources could provide at least an additional 1.0mgd if necessary.

    While we call this a “best case” scenario, it is possible that the costs for restoration and maintenance dredging could be substantially less if the sediment quality is good. It is also possible that these project costs can be further reduced by implementing further demand reduction beyond the 16.2mgd target

    In a “moderate case” scenario, we assume that the initial dredging costs more than anticipated, that there are no cost savings associated with building forbays and that the dredged material cannot be reused

    Repair Ragged Mountain Dam Spillway at existing height $4,000,000
    Restoration Dredging of initial 2 million yards $30,000,000
    Build forebays and periodic maintenance dredging for 50 years $21,000,000
    Install Flow control valves on Beaver Creek Reservoir $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Lake Albemarle $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Chris Green Lake for 5’ drawdown $500,000
    Dead Storage drawdown from SFRR $1,000,000
    RMR to Observatory Pipeline replace at 18 inch $4,000,000
    Observatory WTP Renovate at 4mgd $6,000,000
    South Fork WRP upgrade to 16mgd $9,000,000
    Sugar Hollow to RMR pipeline – replace at 18 inch $16,200,000
    Total Project Cost $92,700,000

    In a “worst case” scenario, we assume that not only does the dredging cost more than anticipated, but that the community, for whatever reason, is unwilling to bring its anticipated 2055 demand in line with reality, and so we must reach the current demand target of 18.7mgd (19.1mgd is achieved)

    Repair Ragged Mountain Dam, increasing height by 13 feet $11,000,000
    Restoration Dredging of initial 2 million yards $30,000,000
    Build forebays and periodic maintenance dredging for 50 years $21,000,000
    Install Flow control valves on Beaver Creek Reservoir $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Lake Albemarle $500,000
    Install Flow control valves on Chris Green Lake for 5’ drawdown $500,000
    RMR to Observatory Pipeline upgrade to 24 inch $6,000,000
    Observatory WTP Upgrade to 6mgd $10,000,000
    South Fork WRP upgrade to 18mgd $12,000,000
    Sugar Hollow to RMR pipeline – upgrade to 24 inch $20,000,000
    Total Project Cost $111,500,000

    The cost for the RMR increase assumes that it is done on the existing base. If it is done on a new base, then the cost of RMR increases to $20M and the total project cost becomes $120,500,000
    Thus even in the “worst case” scenario, which exceeds Gannett Flemmings inflated 2055 demand target of 18.7 mgd, it is a relatively simple exercise to construct a series of water alternatives which meets the projected demand at less cost and much less environmental damage than the current scheme. And that does not even count all of the true costs which are not accounted for in the current scheme!

    [1] For a copy of the current scheme cost numbers, see page 56 of the permit support document at http://www.rivanna.org/documents/community/permitsupportdocument.pdf
    For information on some of the costs missing from the pipeline see

    [2] For a copy of Gannett Fleming’s demand analysis, see:
    Gannett Flemming’s 2055 population figures were criticized by DEQ at a meeting with regulators on April 18, 2005 for being 7 percent higher than VEC projections. They are also based on a 5 percent conservation target, despite the fact that our own drought response and contingency plan anticipates 10 to 15 percent reductions. DEQ has commented that the 5 percent conservation target seems low. See pages 32 and 33 of http://www.rivanna.org/documents/community/comm_apr18/comm_minutes_apr18.pdf

    Finally, the 2055 demand analysis was calculated based on historical demand data through 2001 and assuming this pattern of water usage per capita continues. Since 2001, urban demand has actually DROPPED from 11.2mgd to 10.4mgd, due to water conservation, rather than increasing as Gannett Flemming projected

    [3] From VHB Analysis of alternatives May 16, 2001 pages 11-12

    [4] See page 17 of the permit support document. The SFRR was originally designed to have 492 million gallons of dead storage, which is almost 29 percent of the total storage of 1700 million gallons. Originally the idea was that this area would fill with sediment, although most of the actual sedimentation has occurred upstream. Only about 137 million gallons of the dead storage space has been filled with sediment over the past 42 years. With regular maintenance of the reservoir, and allowing for a more typical dead storage of 10 percent, it is possible to recover up to another 280 million gallons by lowering the intake. This could increase the amount of storage gained by dredging from 5.5 mgd to 7.0 mgd. The possibility of lowering the intake has been discussed by Rivanna but has not been studied. During the drought of 2002 we did plan to pump the dead storage area using a pump on a small floating barge if we needed to, but the drought ended long before we needed to take this step. The cost of a floating pump, for use in an emergency would be approximately 1M. See

    [5] From Gannett Fleming’s Water Supply Supplemental Evaluation, which can be found at:

    Note that while 1.3 mgd yield from Beaver Creek could be made available to the urban system in 2055 while still reserving 1.1mgd for Crozet (nearly three times the current demand of 0.4mgd) we elected to use the more conservative number of 0.8mgd which appears in the permit support document. Gannett Fleming assumed that 0.5 mgd would be reserved for some ‘future industrial’ use. See:

    [6] The pool of the South Fork reservoir is shaped like a V, corresponding to the original contours of the river valley. By side cutting some of the original valley, it is possible to create a pool that is shaped more like a U, thus creating additional capacity on the side. The cost of dredging this material is 7 dollars per yard or 7M per million yards. Each million yards dredged is equivalent to slightly more than 1mgd of safe yield. Not all of the reservoir is likely to be suitable for expansion, because of the presence of rock.

    [7] According to Gannett Fleming, 13 feet is the maximum that RMR can be raised without impacting the embankment of Rt 64. It is also the maximum increase that can be built using the existing base.

    At a joint City Council and BOS meeting on March 3, 2005 raising RMR an additional 13 feet as part of the spillway repair was presented as an option with a price of $5.87 million. Allowing for inflation and additional multiplier for engineering and contingencies yields a very conservative number of 11 million dollars

    Costs for phasing the RMR dam on a new base are described here:
    http://cvillewater.info/cost_phasing_RMR13_and_ RMR30.pdf

    The cost for a 13 foot dam on a new base are calcuated as:
    9,382,000 – new dam at 13” elevation increase
    1,169,000 – breaching of existing upper and lower RM dams
    245,000 – clearing
    2,500,000 – environmental mitigation (prorated to one half of estimate for 45 feet)
    plus the standard GF multiplier of 1.5 for engineering and contingencies
    note – embankment stabalization is not required for a 13 foot dam raise

    The cost to raise the dam 19 feet was not calculated, however the cost to raise 30 feet (impacts rt 64 and requires embankment stabilization) is used as a worst case
    11,919,000 – new dam at 30” elevation increase
    1,169,000 – breaching of existing upper and lower RM dams
    610,000 – clearing
    1,350,000 – embankment stabilization
    3,500,000 – environmental mitigation (prorated to 70% of estimate for 45 feet)
    plus the standard GF multiplier of 1.5 for engineering and contingencies

    [8] see http://cvillewater.info/DOH support for using Moormans River.pdf

  19. We could totally increase water conservation by allowing gray-water applications. If I were allowed to water my garden with used bathtub water, I’d expand my growing areas & get on with it. Zoning doesn’t let me. That’s outside RWSA’s purview; that’s the city keeping me from using water twice before it goes into the sewer system.

  20. Elizabeth, that certainly sounds like an issue that can be solved… i wonder if maybe you’d be willing to suggest an ordinance change? I think there is a subcommittee on CCOES that might be able to review that sort of thing and propose it to city council.

  21. Elizabeth, Search Google for something like divert greywater and get on with it. There is plenty of information about how it should be done. just don’t brag to your neighbors and there will never be a problem.

    Lonnie is dreaming if he thinks that (a)someone on council is actually listening (b)the city actually cares about anything other than greenwash (c)that if anyone did care or listen, that they would actually act to do somehting positive like allow greywater use.

    Kevin Lynch was probably the best Charlottesville’s City Council has had in years, and honestly that isn’t saying much. I think he was pretty ineffective actually and he seemed more that willing to let the two idiots Brown and O’Connell have their way. If he had stood up a bit more then, we might not be hearing about this mess now.

  22. Greyboy,

    I’ve found that so far they’ve taken seriously most all of the recommendations of the CCOES, which is composed of a rather large selection of citizens, environmental groups, and professionals. It’s also fair to acknowledge that local goverment is limited by both budget and what Richmond will legally allow. Within those contraints, I have see alot of progress in a very short time. The minutes are posted online if you’d like to see what the committee has been doing, or you are welcome to come and observe one of our meetings.

    So, no, I don’t think the city is merely “greenwashing”, because I see them actively seeking and listening to community input. If you don’t feel your issues are being addressed, then please consider submitting your suggestions to one of the relevant subcommittees. It’s simply not enough to just complain that the city isn’t green enough. We all need to be part of the solution.

  23. Cville Eye said:

    No, I was not just trying to be sarcastic. But bother for my sake. I’ve finished reading the six postings of the committee’s minutes and have called my first realtor because I can see the handwriting on the wall and want to get out before I have a hard time selling my house.

    I’m not quite sure what your point is… Are you lamenting not enough response to environmental issues, or too much?

    I’ve been reading the CCoES minutes and was wondering if that group will take up the issue of the 54,000 trees being clear-cut at Ragged Mountain or is this issue not on the table. With constantly changing attendees, I’ve noticed the Nature Conservancy and SELC are well represented (both strongly in favor of the water plan) so I guess there’s little likelihood that the issue of massive clear-cutting will be discussed. I’ve also noticed that one of the stated goals is to increase the canopy from 31% to 40%. How does the clear-cutting play into that?

    The new tree plan was meant to increase tree cover within the boundaries of Charlottesville, thus the situation at Raggen Mountain wouldn’t really have anything to do with that. I think the County watches CCOES, but we are primarily a city committee.

    Our subcommittee did make some specific suggestions for improvement on the cities new tree plan, and the watershed was considered in those suggestions, but I personally feel it would have been highly inappropriate for us to make a political point about the water supply plan, instead of limiting ourselves to practical recommendations.

    I can only speak for myself, but I see no reason why the committee couldn’t take up the water supply question as its own seperate issue. There’s by no mean a consensus in the environmental community about the correct decision, but we might be able to illuminate some of the actual environmental costs of the decisions being considered and possible ways to mitigate those. There are indeed a range of issues that really haven’t been addressed at all in the media, and which might be helpful to decision makers.

  24. Another part of the environmental calculation should be the energy footprint required to pump 25 million gallons of water per day, 300 feet uphill, through a 9 1/2 mile pipe

    The $12,300,000 cost they use for 50 years of electricity includes a 25 percent contingency. It is based on a 2008 cost of $9,840,000, using a current cost of $0.08 per kilowatt hour (using an assumption that electricity costs will only go up 25 percent over the next 50 years, which is highly dubious)

    Using today’s cost, $9,840,000 at 8 cents per kilowatt hour is 123,000,000 kilowatt hours or 123,000 megawatt hours.

    A ton of coal produces approximately 2.5 megawatt hours, so 49,200 tons of coal will be required over the 50 year time frame, or 1000 tons of coal per year to push this new piped river uphill. The burning of this coal to generate electricity will result in 2000 tons per year of carbon dioxide being generated for the next 50 years.

    Dredging will take some energy as well, but much, much less. To remove 5 million cubic yards of sediment will require pumping approximately 3 billion gallons of slurry over the next 50 years, compared to the 456 billion gallons that Rivanna plans to pump over 50 years. Also it only needs to be pumped 75 feet uphill to the quarry as opposed to 300 feet uphill to RMR

    As I believe the mission of CCoES is to help the community reduce its environmental footprint, this pipeline would be a step in the wrong direction, no?

  25. Lonnie, we realize we will not be able to afford water, sewer, storm water management, green initiatives, and heating gas in the future, so we’ve decided to move elsewhere. Where exactly, we haven’t decided. We don’t want to wait until Charlottesville is known as one of the most expensive southern towns to live in.
    Mr. Lynch, does 54,000 mature trees make a difference to the carbon emissions tally? Betty Mooney has an interesting response to a recent article in The Hook today. Perhaps some of the environmental groups around the state would be interested in reading it.

  26. That could be a great case for the Climate Protection subcommittee to make. Perhaps, you could drop a note to Len Schoppa and suggest it?

    As I’ve said before, I think both sides of this debate have significant environmental costs. I do agree that we can’t just go around building new reservoirs or flooding more acreage each time we allow a new Biscuit Run. Long term sustainability must include some kind of plan for dredging. The question is, how do we do that responsibly so that we don’t cause more harm than good? Was there any more discussion about Panorama Farms as a site for the dredged material? I have to say that I’d be the first one willing to buy some of that soil…

    My concern here, and area of expertise, is about biodiversity. Has anyone done a species inventory of the area that will be flooded versus the candidate areas that the dredged material would go? Can we guarantee that the Mormons won’t get shut off during high water demand? What wetland species might have colonized the areas that will be dredged? How do we handle mitigation when we know there will be impacts on rare Albemarle county species? (for either plan). Will we replace like with like? Or, will real habitats be replaced with sterile artificial substitutes? Would we lose the TNC stream restorations if we pursued the dredging? These are the questions I’d like to see answers for.

    As an issue of fairness, I’d also like us to think about who is supposed to pay for all this? It seems like for either plan existing residents are subsidizing future growth. On one side, people come out in droves to protest new environmental measures, like rural protection or land use taxation reform (when there’s known abuse of the system) but are somehow troubled when they realize they’ll have to pay higher taxes to expand water supplies for new subdivisions, effectively subsidized by current policies. In fact, during the discussion about critical slope, staff showed a direct example of a subdivision built on critical slope dumping sediment into the North Fork Reservoir, but yet somehow we failed to pass critical slope protections. What’s the point of dredging if we don’t solve the problems causing much of the sediment?

    I do think there are answers to these questions, and the hurdles are not insurmountable. As someone else said, this is a 50 year plan. I think we can afford the time as a community to ask all the right questions and do this thing right. I’m also concerned that there are alot of hypotheticals floating around out there in these debates. Alot of the numbers presented on both sides seem to be merely estimates. My support of any plan is dependant on us making sure we ask all the questions and make decisions on solid evidence, and with consideration of the environmental impacts on the next seven generations.

    I appreciate the time that folks like Kevin have already spent doing some of the research, asking the questions, and challenging the community to think more deeply about these important decisions.

  27. Lonnie, I agree there are still a great many unanswered questions. Why wasn’t the questions asked before and why didn’t the consultants anticipate the questions and answered them before they were asked? After all, it has been said that Gannett Fleming has now secured $5M in local contracts. I truly believe a well-run organization would change its leadership on a project if so much time and money has been spent with so little to show for it. There needs to be a serious change in the players that are making these decisions, in both the composition of the RWSA and in the contracted consultants. That should happen first, before the community continues to investigate this problem. The mere fact that we have at least three people out of five on the board who can not vote on utility rates should tell somebody something. And what expertise does a developer of homes have in engineering water supplies?

  28. C-ville Eye,

    I’d say it isn’t those initiatives that are costing you, but rather the uncontrolled development that has made them so necessary…

    Thanks for pointing out Betty Mooney’s comments. She does make some good points along the lines of what I asked for above. Now we need a biologist to take that one step further and evaluate impacts to the species listed. For example, can the Otters just move to higher ground?

    It’s all one sided though, in the sense that it doesn’t also evaluate what species and habitats might be impacted by dredging. For example, what if dredging caused us to lose the only site for another rare species? We’ve got to get beyond politics and look at both sides of the equation. If we’re going to present an article like the Hook has done, and put “What’s environmentally controversial:” on one side then you need to do that on the other side too. By doing that, in addition to making the best possible choice, we can also be sure to make plans to minimize the damage from whatever option we end up choosing.

  29. Lonnie, I agree there are still a great many unanswered questions. Why wasn’t the questions asked before and why didn’t the consultants anticipate the questions and answered them before they were asked?

    I completely agree.

  30. I wonder if it’s a sorta reverse-Voisinet situation. Landowners *downriver* from the dam would like to see it *gone*, or inactive. There was a letter to the DP to that effect. It pointed out, unfairly I think, that people who live out there are not rate-paying customers of RWSA. Unfair, because people out in the boonies always get stuck with reservoirs. http://www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/article/ragged_mountain_plan_too_pricey/22203/ (It says “by staff” but it’s really a letter by Timothy D. Wilson, noted at the bottom.)

    I accept environmentalists want to save the snails and improve the health of the river below the dam, but my question is how far the benefit reaches. By how many miles down, White Hall, Free Union?, is the flow from tributaries enough to overcome the problems?

    In the stretch below the Sugar Hollow dam and under the bridges the fishing rights are controlled by the well-funded Trout Unlimited. They stock it with larger fry & fish than the gov’t supplies up above the dam in the park.

    I know its terrible to see a river restricted to a trickle just at the wrong time of year, but how much public land is affected? Compare Ragged Mtn. A beautiful sylvan valley lies below I-64 in the watershed, completely uninhabited and protected from development. It’s not very large as watersheds go (hence the need for the pipe from Sugar Hollow), but it is fine. And you are not allowed to go there, because the agreement in building the parking lot for the trails a decade or so ago was that hikers would have to stay on the trails and not bring dogs. Before that it was OK to park in the ditch and walk anywhere. The agreement was with the donating landowner (of the nearby farm), and RWSA. So what are the chances of convincing RWSA to open the south-of-64 area to hikers? Slim I suppose.

    If the new plan fails, maybe RWSA will get a revolution and we can have the obvious hiking land down there.

  31. colfer, I found out the “Staff” link is to email someone at the News Virginian, which I believe is in Augusta County. I suspect Mr. Wilson wrote his letter to that paper rather than to the DP because he subscribes to it and they wrote an article about the controversy. I think you are right to imply that there’s more people behind this particular plan than the NC, PEC, SELC and Fern-Mueller-Tucker-O’Connell-Gaffney group. (I think by referring to RWSA as an authority leads people to think that one of them are an “authority” on water and sewer engineering matters. If they were, they wouldn’t have been filpped by Gannett Fleming, and we wouldn’t have this plan). I was reading where part of the increase in county water rates will go toward fixing the sewage facilities to accommodate the new development coming south of I-64. If South Point, Avon Place(?), Southwood and Biscuit Run will be on the sewer, I guess they’ll be needing a lot of water, too. It will benefit other landowners in the area when their vacant land goes under development. The Nautre Conservancy has said somebody has donated some land, about 300 acres I think, to be managed by NC to help replace the public’s hiking trails. If I’m wrong I hope NC corrects me. What I wonder is, who’s the current owner of the land that will be donating this large tract. Oh, this breakfast meetings at Farmington have always benefitted a bunch of people not in the public eye.

  32. So NC gets more land and RWSA gets more machines. I can see why it is appealing to both. Reduce, reuse, recycle is not on the agenda.

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