Dam Prices Doubles

Well, this seems bad:

An engineering firm has nearly doubled the estimated cost of a dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir, prompting officials to halt design work on a project intended to supply drinking water to the region for the next 50 years.

Gannett Fleming — the firm tasked with the project’s design, engineering and construction — hiked the original $37 million cost estimate to $70 million largely because of fractured and weathered rock at the site of the future dam. Local officials then sought a second study from Schnabel Engineering, which concluded that the project could be done for $56.5 million or less.

Brandon Shulleeta explains in the Progress that the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is putting together a panel to review the two studies and figure out what to do. Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply Plan are thrilled, saying that this is makes clearer than ever that it would be cheaper to just dredge the South Fork. The trick is that we’re not trying to provide water for everybody who lives here, but also everybody who might move here between now and 2058. Growth is expensive, and it’s the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.

47 Responses to “Dam Prices Doubles”

  • This whole process is turning into a circus. I guess why the original, simpler plan used a bladder.

  • Kevin Lynch stated on WINA today that dredging the SFR would only provide 2/3 of projected demand. Sounds to me, despite the recent findings by Gannett, that I’d rather have the existing water supply plan, which would actually meet projected demand.

    When will Citizens for a SWSP acknowledge that their primary motive is limiting population. They sound oddly similar to ASAP, which actively seeks to limit, if not reduce the existing population of this area. How is that good for a community? How is taking a risk with a water supply plan (2/3 might be enough…but maybe not…) good for a community’s well-being, even with the higher costs inherent in the adopted plan?

  • Hey, it would be cheaper to just use Wal-Mart yellow paint for street lining, although it might not last as long.

    However, we have dodged the bullet recently a wee bit too close and would like to see us address the issue sooner rather than later. Prices will NOT be coming down. Additonlly, many a street and bridge project built for 50 years has been overwhelmed in a decade.

    Dredging cannot hurt, and may give us quicker breathing room.

  • Kevin Lynch’s comments did not include the additional water that will be coming from Sugar Hollow, once the pipeline is replaced.

  • ….but his numbers don’t include the cost of the pipeline he, and CSWSP, oppose.

  • According to The Hook, that new $70 million does NOT include reinforcing the I-64 embankment that will be required to hold water – estimated to be $18.5 million alone. And get this, the original 37 million DID. So we’re talking about at least TRIPLING the cost at nearly $90 million. What else did they decide to “take out” before releasing the numbers?

    And it gets worse yet. To fill that 90M dam and reservoir, they need a new 9-mile pipeline from the South Fork. How much? They guess $67 million. But there are no designs, plans or even an approved route. It is at this point – in their own words, “conceptual”

    This is just plain scary.

    Read the Hook article:

  • The Hook is as objective on this issue as Fox News. It’s their, make that his and a handful of people’s obsession. “Distorted” “news” source does not begin to describe the misinformation that the Hook has spread.

  • What misinformation has the Hook spread on this issue?

  • Cartboy, ( I wish I knew peoples real names) Is this information incorrect in any way?
    Seems that the Hook is the only news source with the correct new estimate for the dam. Do you disagree?

    from the Hook article above

    “I was concerned with the magnitude of the new estimate,” said Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority executive director Tom Frederick after a Monday morning press conference at which a range of figures were unveiled: from as little as $82.3 million to a high of $98.7 million.

    What’s driven the price up so much? Among the big-ticket items are $9.8 million for foundation excavation, $6.9 for mobilization, $15.5 million for roller-compacted concrete, and as much as $18.5 million to build a new embankment for Interstate 64, whose bed the new reservoir would lap.

    Wrongly, the press release accompanying the announcement omitted the I-64 embankment, a crucial part of the dam project that is nowhere else accounted for in the 50-year water plan. When a Hook reporter pointed out that the release— and, subsequently, other local media— understated the amended project cost as just $70 million, Frederick said he simply took issue with the embankment’s estimated cost as published in Gannett-Fleming’s report, which the Hook examined.

    “What you have in front of you,” said Frederick, “is the opinion of Gannett-Fleming; it is not the opinion of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority.”

  • Tea Buz, Please go to Cvillewater.info to read our Alternatives for the 50 year water plan. We do have an alternative that supplies just as much water for the community as the RWSA concept at a far lower cost and includes dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

    We also agree with the Nature Conservancy that water conservation is an important goal for this community and may mean the original demand numbers for what we need in the next 50 years are too high, not because we are against growth or estimate less population, but for the last 6 years the demand is going down because people are voluntarily using less water with low flow toilets, washing machines, dish washers, faucets and other devices. Isn’t this a good thing? Please also note the EPA Water Sense program at our web-site

  • I’m a little curious as to why danpri is so convinced that prices won’t be coming down. It is pretty obvious that the economy in general is very shaky. There is a serious credit problem, and the building industry in general is going to be hit hard very soon.

    We have had a building frenzy in the past decade that isn’t going to continue. If you take a look around the state you will see that there are already a lot of projects underway that are going to lead to bankruptcies when their expected tenants don’t show up. Bankrupt developers aren’t going to be hiring builders. There is going to be a shakedown in the industry, and it is very likely that in the scramble to survive bid prices are going to drop like crazy.

  • Mayor Norris hit the nail on the head at the press conference when he said the existing plan achieves four key objectives (staying within our watershed, meeting proj. demand, restoring stream flow, least expensive), that alternatives have yet live up to.

    The big one to me is meeting projected demand. I’m with Tea Buz, and would rather not cross my fingers in the hopes that conservation will make up the remaining 1/3 of projected demand that simply dredging the SFRR would fail to provide.

    The handful of folks who show up to the RWSA board meetings ought to stop stating that there’s such an “overwhelming majority” of citizens opposed to the existing plan. Have you conducted a poll? The insulting, condescending tone you take with elected and appointed officials doesn’t help matters.

  • Zimmer, Please read our Call to Action paper at the web-site we don’t depend on conservation to make up the 1/3 demand but dredging plus other much less costly options.

  • I’m a little curious as to why danpri is so convinced that prices won’t be coming down. It is pretty obvious that the economy in general is very shaky. There is a serious credit problem, and the building industry in general is going to be hit hard very soon.

    So you’d think. But, in fact, they’re only going up, presumably to make up for their loss of income from lower sales. The price of building my house has gone up $25k in materials in the past eight months, and we don’t even have a hole in the ground yet.

  • I wish that folks who complain about biased media coverage and inaccurate information would be specific. Is there something inaccurate on cvillewater.info?

    If so: what?

  • It’s pretty obvious the Hook has a bias when they won’t allow “certain” posts to their blog.

    Thank you Waldo for allowing a free and open discussion.

  • Zimmer, I don’t plan to look it up, but if Ambassador Norris said that this is the least expensive proposal, then he is being totally misleading. He is missing so much data such as what’s the cost of the pipeline from SFRR to Ragged MTn? If fact, it’s path is not guaranteed so no one can claim he has any idea.
    Ambassador Norris and Ken Boyd have both said they are unwilling to re-look at this issue from the ground up. In other words, they are saying they refuse to do a job they have asked the public to give them. The job has been pushed off on O’Connell-Mueller-Fern-Tucker-Gaffney (developer), or Gannett-Fleming or Tom Frederick or the Stewardship task force or another consultant or another panel? Who’s in charge here? Most thinking people would be very nervous about endorsing figures that frequently change and frustration alone would cause them to get more concrete figures. Ambassador Norris has stated that he might be in favor of the BoS and Council might want to appoint a member of their boards to the RWSA in order to inspire more public confidence in the process. It will not inspire me based upon their past performance. I’m for an elected RWSA like we have elected school boards. They will look out for their constituents or get voted out. I would suspect they would have more expertise also. We can then let council focus on Tibet.

  • When you buy life insurance, the later you wait to get in the game, the higher the monthly rate you pay – If the water authority had a similar mechanism, perhaps folks who move here in the future could pay a higher rate to help pay for the infrastructure that is being built in anticipation of the projected growth.

  • That’s an intriguing suggestion!

  • That was one reason some people supported phasing the project over a period of years. With each phase, rates would rise to pay for it (actually the debt-service on the bonds). Since us old people will be dead in fifty years, we won’t be billed as much for the future residents’ water and sewer infrastructure. Now RWSA is recommending to build everything now and we old people will be paying on the big bill until we die (or move).

  • blockhead
    Sep 24th, 2008 at 8:23 pm
    When you buy life insurance, the later you wait to get in the game, the higher the monthly rate you pay – If the water authority had a similar mechanism, perhaps folks who move here in the future could pay a higher rate to help pay for the infrastructure that is being built in anticipation of the projected growth.

    That is preposterous! How about having our own children pay more for the same stuff too… While we’re at it, let’s make sure we have a complex taxation code associated with seniority in the area! And to complete the picture, let make a special provisions that 50-year existing land owners are protected from inflation and are sole entities allowed to sub-divide and ensure their profits are protected!

  • Many localities have chosen to wait until their schools are full of students and trailers are used as classrooms before adding to existing schools or building new ones. Then they build to house a few more students than are currently enrolled. How do they benefit? They realize they can not predict population growth for twenty years or more and try to tailor their needs to a few years down the road. They also realize they have no idea where growth will occur and which schools in which areas will need to be modified or to be built.
    Many years ago, Charlottesville projected it would need space of 2000 high school stuents and used that prediction to build CHS rather than expand Lane High School. Fortunately for the tax payer, they decided to build three wings and a fourth at a future date. Why fortunately? The student population never approached two thousand and, in fact, soon began a decline to something less than 1000. The fourth wing was never needed. Some of the classrooms have been converted into offices because of a lack of need. What should happen if the student population starts growing? The school system could move the central offices out of CHS and into Jefferson School on Fourth Street NW and convert the offices back into classrooms. They saved millions of dollars by not building the fourth wing back in the seventies.

  • CCS can’t move anything into the Jefferson School because it doesn’t own it any more. Their current plan for central office staff is to move them into the ex-pool next to Walker once all the new pools are built! This in advance of the efficiency study they’re going to tell us about in early October. Cart before horse, anyone?

    Sorry to get off topic…

  • Oniss, you make some good points. Isn’t one underlying topic of this thread the wise decision-making? I think certain principles can be applied across the board. Actually, council has to appropriate the money to build a new central office (current building is not big enough and will not have enough parking) and it can appropriate the Jefferson facility instead, as it appropriates Jackson-Via, Greenbrier, CHS, Burnley-Moran, Walker, Buford and Johnson for school use. I think the school system still owns Venable and Clark. It may be a good idea for the school system to deed all of its properties to the city and let the city worry about their upkeep. To handle the changes in infrastructure for the school system separate from that of city hall is not looking at the big picture, just as not considering the disposition of Jefferson School or the effect of eliminating softball from McIntire is not. Using Jefferson School as an office complex could save the city millions.

  • Just as a casual observer, I just want to say that I’m impressed by how much of the details you guys know about this sort of stuff. Pity more folks aren’t as informed. Zzzz…

  • Mr. Crutchfield’s letter to the Hook last April certainly hit the mark!


    Mr. Crutchfield’s April letter to the Hook certainly hit the mark”

    April 28, 2008

    Dear Hawes:
    I want to compliment you for writing and The Hook for publishing the April 3rd and April 24th articles on the controversy surrounding the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s proposed $143 million water plan. You raised some very important issues which the community needs to understand.

    Since the beginning of this debate, I have felt that it is a mistake not to dredge the South Rivanna reservoir. Furthermore, my instincts have been extremely uncomfortable with the concept of enlarging the Ragged Mountain dam and connecting the Ragged Mountain and South Rivanna reservoirs with a 9.5 mile pipeline.

    I must preface my remarks by saying that my opinions are based on what I have read in the media and have heard in the community. I have not been privy to any of the technical discussions that officials of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle have had regarding this subject. Nevertheless, it appears that the decision makers may have failed to ask the types of questions that prudent businesspeople ask when making tough decisions. Here are seven questions that initially come to my mind:

    Why did the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority seek a cost feasibility study for dredging from only one consultant? They hired a consultant, Gannett Fleming, to determine the cost of dredging. Their estimate was $145 million. However, other parties believed the cost would be significantly less. A dredging contractor was willing to do it for $21 million-85% less. Under these circumstances, prudent businesspeople would have commissioned at least one other cost study.

    Was it a conflict of interest for Gannett Fleming to provide an estimate for dredging and be asked to design the dam? The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority asked Gannett Fleming to compete for the design of the Ragged Mountain dam.

    Obviously, if dredging was determined to be a good option, there may not have been a need to design a dam. As it turned out, Gannett Fleming was awarded a $3.1 contract for dam design. Prudent businesspeople would have seen this situation as a potential conflict of interest. They would have commissioned a dredging feasibility study from a firm or firms that did not have a vested interest in the Authority’s decision not to dredge.

    What is the professional qualification of the Nature Conservancy for developing this plan? Apparently, an official with the Nature Conservancy devised it. According to its website, the Nature Conservancy’s mission is “to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.” The Nature Conservancy performs this mission admirably. However, designing municipal water systems is not one of their core competencies. Prudent businesspeople would not have based a decision on a plan developed by an organization that did not have the appropriate expertise and experience.

    Did the Nature Conservancy understand the full environmental impact of their plan? It has been reported that their plan calls for clear cutting 54,000 trees over 180 acres. Apparently, the Sierra Club now understands the plan’s impact and is withdrawing its endorsement of it. Prudent businesspeople would have understood all aspects of a plan before adopting it.

    How much money will local water customers pay and how large is the carbon footprint for the incremental electricity production? Little has been said about the energy needed to pump enormous quantities of water through a 9.5 mile pipeline and then up a small mountain. Prudent businesspeople would factor the financial and environmental costs of a plan that requires the use of so much electrical energy.

    Has anyone in the decision-making process looked for creative as opposed to consultant-packaged, generic solutions? The best decisions are often based on creative, non-conventional ideas. For example, there is an abandoned stone quarry within walking distance of the South Rivanna reservoir’s dam. It may be possible to buy the quarry and pump sediment into it. The dewatering of the sediment might occur naturally-the sediment would sink to the bottom and the water could be pumped off the top. Another non-conventional idea would be to buy the low-lying, river-front land that includes the old UVa polo field. Because it is in the Rivanna River’s flood plain, this land probably has no development potential. Sediment could be pumped the short distance to it for drying and future sale. Prudent businesspeople would explore creative solutions like these.

    What are the long-term ramifications of not dredging? Eventually, the reservoir would fill with sediment and become a giant swamp. If that were to happen, the public would demand a complex and costly remediation. Prudent businesspeople would consider long-term issues like this one.

    Although the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s water plan may be flawed, I do applaud them for attempting to find a long-term solution for our water needs. As I understand it, if the South Rivanna reservoir is completely dredged, our water system would revert back to the capacity that it had 40 years ago. Obviously, we need to find ways to increase our water capacity. This goal is especially important considering the possibility of a reduction in average rainfall as a result of climate change.

    As the Authority moves forward with its future planning, I hope that they learn to ask the right questions
    William G. Crutchfield Jr.

  • Not buying it. As Mr. Schuyler recently pointed out in the DP, it’s time for folks to put their real motives on the table.

  • Majunga, I guess you didn’t like that idea, but no need to go all postal.. I was just trying to think outside of the box.
    Awhile back, when folks were discussing Biscuit Run, there were figures posted ( county figures I believe) that showed that the county would not recover in proffers from the developer the true cost of providing services for the development. I’m talking schools, roads,water, emergency services to name a few. I guess what chaps my butt is the idea that developers make their profit, and residents (whether they support the project or not) are stuck with the bill for the significant shortfall.
    So how would you propose to fairly finance the costs of projected growth? How far ahead is it reasonable to plan for? I’m not an economist, but would there be any way to structure the debt for the water project so that the bulk of the cost is due at the time when the growth is projected to occur?

  • I agree with Mr. Schuyler that growth and the amount of water a community needs are 2 separate issues. Water demand for 50 years should be based on accurate population numbers and accurate water demand. The required State Water Plan, for which this community has not yet received approval, requires this data and that is what we should base our 50 year water plan on.

  • That’s not what he was referring to. The issue not being admitted to is population control.

  • Zimmer, coming up with accurate population and accurate demand numbers has nothing to do with population control.

  • What the heck does Mr. Crutchfield know about building dams, he owns an electronic store. Sounds like a few residents, certainly with good intentions, have become zealots and will stop at nothing to sabotage a process that the whole community has weighed in on. It sounds to me that the folks running the studies have tried to be up front on the facts, good and bad, and have the best intentions for the community. This dog and pony show of teary eyed “concerned citizens” demanding resignations and investigations don’t want the process to go forward, they just want no dam and no growth. That is unrealistic and reckless.

  • obviously, Mr. Crutchfield understand the concept of Balance Sheets. He runs a national catalogue store. I have seen no evidence of that among any of the so-called representatives of the public. I’ll use this as an example. The joint county/school board budget is $486M. The expect a $4.1M budget shortfall. The public has been told repeatedly this amount represents a substantial cut. It actually represents a 0.8% cut. That’s comparable to a wage earner making $100k per year and having to cut $800. Substantial? That’s less than $16 a month.
    What is missing in the water supply proposal is a balance sheet of income and expenditures and it is clear that there was never any intention that there would be one. That’s why studies were not done and no spreadsheets presented. That’s why the estimates continue to rise. Money is no object. Just do whatever and pass the bill on to the customer. The majority of citizens has a child-like relationship with government anyway.
    There is no process that the whole community has weighed-in upon. None. Not the Meadowcreek Parkway, the bricking of the Mall or the designation of growth areas in the county. None.

  • Bill Crutchfield probably doesn’t know any more about building dams than anyone making comments here. What he does know a lot about is the efficient use of available funds. He’s extremely intelligent and tends to look at many sides of any problem before forming an opinion. He’s a lot of things, but “teary eyed citizen” isn’t one of his titles. He just hates to see his money or tax dollars wasted when he thinks there’s a better way. The difference between him and most people making comments here is he’s been a very influential businessperson in the community for many years, he’s been fabulously successful by being innovative over and over again, and he’s right way more often than he’s wrong. He has a great BS detector, too.

    Disclaimer – I used to be in his employ, and got to know him fairly well. He’s no more perfect than anybody else, but he’s DEFINITELY a visionary – and in things other than consumer electronics direct marketing. You don’t have to know anything about building dams to sense that there’s possibly a general fleecing of the public treasury occurring.

  • what does a very successful businessman know about asking the right questions and getting the right answers before spending lots of money.

    Well, enough to make more money that most of us…combined. Does that make him a Dam expert? NO, just a damn smart person. One would be wise to listen to smart people that do not have a horse in the race other than personal concern.

  • Who cares what Bill knows. The funny thing is that the anti-water supply plan folks are claiming that dredging is so much more cheaper, based on dredging quotes from completely inexperienced “dredgers.” Better yet, they’re most enthusiastic about a local developer, who has literally no experience dredging. The irony is hysterical.

  • The biggest irony is that the people who decided against dredging (Tropea’s plan) know less about dredging than the developer or Crutchfield. Unfortunately, somebody put them in the royal seat of making ignorant decisions. It would be interesting to have been able to put these people in either of the pro-dredgers successful corporation and see just how far up the ladder they would go.

  • The funny thing is that the anti-water supply plan folks are claiming that dredging is so much more cheaper, based on dredging quotes from completely inexperienced “dredgers.”

    I’m puzzled. You put the word “dredgers” in scare quotes, and described the company as “completely inexperienced.” Out of curiousity, I googled around, and found that the firm who provided the quote is Gahagan & Bryant Associates. GBA is solely in the business of dredging (and anything pertaining to moving around dirt underwater: reclaiming land, deepening ports, etc.). They’ve been in business since 1895. They have eight locations throughout the nation. Their clients include the General Services Administration, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, two dozen major port authorities (LA, Galveston, Long Beach, NYC, Wilmington, Savannah, Houston, etc.), dozens of states and cities (San Francisco, Texas DOT, Nantucket, Jupter Island, etc.) Alcoa, BG&E, and the National Association of Dredging Contractors. I read through several years of newspaper articles about GBA, and it all looks good to me.

    So, tell me: can you back up this claim of yours, or do you want to go ahead and admit that you’re full of shit?

  • Waldo!
    I took the writer to mean Kuttner and Crutchfield who are not in the dredging field. I never dreamed that the writer was referring to the dredging firm that was actually consulted. How sophomoric.

  • Fair enough, but the fact is DDR has dredged nothing. It’s interesting how their plan was embraced with such enthusiasm, despite their lack of experience.


  • As opposed to RWSA & it’s board & Gary O’Connell who have dredged…. what, exactly?

  • “Fair enough, but the fact is DDR has dredged nothing.” According to the article Antivus cites, “A local company has put together a team and a concept that involves engineers, dredgers…” Would the dredgers referred to be called dredgers if they’ve never dredged? Perhaps they’re dredger-wannabes.
    “…despite their lack of experience.” Again, according to the same article, “Enright points out that DDR had over 350 clients last year and its officials, having had well over 100 site plans approved, have extensive experience in dealing with Albemarle County officials…” and “ ‘We’re a one-stop shop,’ says Roell, noting that DDR was formed two years ago in a merger of some of Charlottesville’s better known land-planning firms: B. Aubrey Huffman and Associates, Bob Anderson Architects, and Rivanna Engineering.”

  • Those of you who still think that the RMR dam is a good idea might want to read the actual text of the memos that Tom Frederick gave the Rivanna board last Friday and which they discussed on Monday. They are here http://www.rivanna.org/documents/agenda_sep22_2008_doc6a.pdf and here http://www.rivanna.org/documents/agenda_sep22_2008_doc6a_report.pdf

    Don’t feel bad if you havent read the reports already, because it was pretty obvious on Monday that the Rivanna board hadnt read them either. Most of their questions (which lasted all of 10 minutes) were about the composition and charge of a so called “panel of experts” that will be hired to advise them on what to do about the information that they were given – there were no questions about the substantive issues raised in the documents themselves. Cvilletomorrow has the audio. Listen and weep for your future water bills.

    It is clear from the Gannet Flemming memo that the new 70M figure quoted in the press release is only a part of the new dam costs. The total cost will be well over 90M and could easily exceed 100M – not including the pipeline, which Tom now admits cant be built in its proposed location without the 29 bypass. Tom also made it quite clear on Monday that there is no “Plan B” for the pipeline. Its all just a “concept” now, so in theory it could exist anywhere and no specific alignment need be studied for feasibility. Right!! If you believe that, I’ve got an empty dam I’d like to sell. Oops, someone beat me to it.

    It is also clear from the memo that Gannett Fleming is having second thoughts about the RMR being the best option now. They state in the memo that the pipeline should be re-evaluated before moving forward with RMR. They also recommended four other options for moving forward, including evaluating a lower dam and dredging in combination. However, none of these recommended options were even discussed on Monday.

    Some of the “cost saving” ideas that Schanabel came up with are highly questionable and may run into some trouble with regulators and public. For example, does the community really want to open a new gravel quarry somewhere in the natural area near the dam to save on the cost of trucking the aggregate from an existing quarry? Has anyone run that one by the neighbors, regulators and environmentalists yet? And their scheme for saving 2M on cofferdams and foundation dewatering by lowering the reservoir to absorb a 25 year storm sounds mighty risky to me. In addition to decreasing safe yield during construction, what if we get a 50 or 100 year storm while the foundations are being poured? Sure the chance is probably low but the cost is high if it happens. These guys are already pressing their luck, do you really want to add more risk to this project? No need for a high contingency on bonds and insurance cost? My guess is that if the insurers know that the original engineering firm was sacked because their estimates were too high, and that a firm that originally lost the design bid got it back with a 9th inning lowball, they are going to put a huge risk premium on this project.

    I cant really speak to the engineering behind Shanabel’s plan to grout the fractured rock instead of removing or concrete facing it, but given some of the other assumptions they made it appears that they were asked to present as much of a best case scenario as possible. Having been burned on the Big Dig, Gannett Fleming may be a little more gun shy now about trying to shave costs by using putty instead of concrete

    Even if all of Shanabel’s “cost saving” ideas are implemented, the project will be at least 30M over budget, which means at least another 25 percent water rate hike. Minimum. The bottom line is that RWSA appears to be headed for a huge water price increase to pay for a dam that will be a lot riskier than originally envisioned and which, without the pipeline (which is another under-designed and under-budgeted project) will only supply 2.5mgd of the 9.9mgd that Rivanna says we need for the next fifty years. Compare that to the 5.5mgd provided by dredging, which is a much less costly, less risky and less environmentally damaging option.

    Its also important for the Moormans river enthusiasts to understand that the “adopted” plan does not restore the natural flow to the Moormans at all. It provides a theme park flow. The Sugar Hollow dam will continue to hold back the naturally high flows during storms and will release this water to augment the flow during times when the Moormans would naturally be dry. It might make for better trout fishing and pretty pictures that TNC can put in their fundraising letters, but it is not natural by a long shot. And it is taking our cleanest source of water, which the Department of Health has advised us not to give up, and mixing this water with all sorts of agricultural waste before we drink it. I’m not defending Rivanna’s current practices with respect to the Moormans – our plan also substantially increases the minimum flows in the Moormans, but the idea that Rivanna’s scheme provides “natural” flow is absurd. It is nothing but greenwashing for a wasteful project.

  • This is not, as I see it, a question of to-dredge-or-not-to-dredge. The issue is that we have NO IDEA what the current plan will cost and, until we have reality-based figures, it’s the height of irresponsibility to move forward. Kevin and the mayor and I mixed it up on this question on his blog:


  • I think it’s great that a councilor will discuss city issues on his blog. After reading the posts at the link that Kendra Hamilton left above I would suggest that the RWSA act as other similar agencies around this nation by not adopting concepts and calling them plans. An example of a concept is to say that you hope to spend two weeks driving to California, stopping to spend the night where ever you find yourself tired. An actual plan would entail such things as miles/day, meal costs/day, lodging expenses, gas and maintenance expenses, etc. What the board should be given, but they apparently have not asked for, is a spreadsheet to accompany each “plan” that contains line-items by category and an analysis of how this plan lines up with the adopted requisites for this project. AS estimates for each line-item change, the spreadsheet can be easily updated.
    Hopefully, spreadsheets will be developed for the original bladder concept and the current concept. If the Citizens group wishes to have their concept considered by the board and the public, then it should develop a spreadsheet, too. Decisions should be made based upon as much concrete information as can be possibly made available.
    The spreadsheets can not be compared by ine item because each concept has its own costs specific to its definition. The comparison should be made between evaluations as to how each concept fulfills the community’s needs and the community’s wants.

  • Isn’t this what our paid officials should be doing for the community? I thought this was called fiscal reponsibility and environmental stewardship.
    The citizens group is all volunteer and the organizations fighting our ideas have paid lobbyists and are multi-million dollar corporations with huge staffs.

  • Is time to consider the issue of governance? Has the RWSA Board been doing its job? I am not as close an observer of the RWSA Board as others on this thread, but I have been to a few meetings, and every time I’ve had the disheartening sense that there is precious little oversight in evidence with this Board. This doesn’t require combativeness on the part of Board members, just a keen eye and keener questions to what is missing in staff and consultant reports and recommendations. Plus a healthy skepticism about the cost of various proposals that staff would like approved. (Hint: these cost estimates never go down.)

    Is it a problem that the chair of the Board is one of the biggest builders in town? Does Mike Gaffney bring expertise to the RWSA Board, or an ongoing conflict of interest? What a waste of time and (our) money all of this appears to be.

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