County Water Manager Questions Usage Forecasts

Concerns about the regional water supply are based on the projection that, come 2055, we’ll require 18.7M gallons per day. But the county’s own water resources manager says we’ll need 20% less than that, Hawes Spencer writes in The Hook, which is an awfully big difference. Greg Harper wrote in an internal memo that water usage has been declining over the past decade, contending that the natural replacement of old plumbing fixtures with modern ones will only accelerate this trend. The debate over dredging and a new dam is all about trying to anticipate future demand; if our demand forecasts are pessimistic, we could potentially waste millions of dollars on unnecessary supply increases.

13 thoughts on “County Water Manager Questions Usage Forecasts”

  1. Alternately, if our demand projections are too conservative, our community could end up with too little water after spending millions on a new water supply system.

  2. Interesting, Rick. But I didn’t hear anybody suggest that our projections are too conservative. We should be worrying about eventualities that seem likely, not every eventuality.

  3. Nice to have someone without an apocolyptic view on the future that damagouges have long used to justify an end-run around process and debate in the name of expediency when dealing with an “emergency” situation.

  4. Has will heard one to many crisis? Overrun O’Connell has been running that rationale for years. Remember the failing EMS claim?

  5. The big problem with agencies run a authorities around here is that the board members are not elected. They are so removed from the people that they are supposed to serve that they can function almost with no accountability. Unofortunately our representatives have not been interested in the past in what any of our authorities have been doing that the authorities are accustomed to working without oversight and now the board members actually seem to resent the public’s questioning. We should have elected authority boards.

  6. It is also ridiculous that advocacy groups have been allowed to design a water supply proposal when the designers have demonstrated no expertise in that area. It is even more outrageous that our elected officials continue to allow this simply because the advocates have big bucks. The former representative of TNC and PEC may have had the public’s best interest at heart when they worked together to form the Ivy Creek and Ragged Mountain Natural Areas, but these present characters are way off base.


    This article at the Hook and the one in the Daily Progress highlight Greg Harper’s ideas as worth paying attention to

    Rachana Dixit writes “Something that is just beginning to be evaluated, though, is a greater effort to conserve water.”

    Local architect and developer Bill Atwood is building an 85,000-square-foot, mixed-use development on West Main Street. While infill development is something increasingly common within city limits, the 270,000-gallon rainwater catching device on top of Atwood’s building is something that Charlottesville has not seen a whole lot of.

    “Now we need to save the water and hide the water,” Atwood said.

    Most of the water saved in Atwood’s project will be used to flush toilets, while some will also be used for landscaping and cooling purposes.(Daily Progress)

    I believe that the use of graywater for non-potable use on a wider scale is the next major conservation savings. As we saw with low flush toilets, these trends can catch on very quickly once established.

    This is another reason to re-visit the assumptions that were made by the RWSA consultants for our projected 50 year water supply. The 2004 Gannett Fleming demand report only uses data through 2001, starting in 2002 demand started declining, following implementation of a number of conservation measures. The 2004 report treats the decline in water usage from years 2002-2004 as an anomaly, even though six years after the drought the trend toward less water usage has continued. Greg Harper, the County Water Resource Manager has addressed this in his paper “Are we overestimating our future water needs-an updated inquiry into data and assumptions-”which can be found in this article:

    His ideas and others need to be carefully evaluated before launching into a more than $200 million dollar new water infrastructure system, instead of first looking at conservation and efficiency measures that could be adopted. Then we can plan for a sustainable way to increase our water supply that can take into account the trend toward less water consumption now and in the future and be phased in gradually so as not to be a financial burden for the rate-payers who will foot the bill.

  8. I don’t suppose y’all have read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man Interesting little book. I mention it because it’s by a man who was hired to go to foreign countries and make the case for massive infrastructure improvements by lying on the projections to put those countries into debt and then manipulate them. He gives dams as a major example.
    It seems to me that domestic engineering estimates may be similarly tainted for similar reasons, to create major debt and manipulate local governments through that debt, and of course to make money on the bloated projects. Interesting things to think about.

  9. There has to be a REAL reason why GREEN Charlottesville and GREEN Albemarle are adamant about clear cutting 40K trees and running a reservoir underneath I-64 in order to absorb chemical spills from 18-wheelers.

  10. Cville Eye: Well, PEC and TNC support it. It’s arguably good for the Moorman’s. It’s probably less disastrous than a pipeline to the James. That’s kind of green.

  11. If the moormans is to be reclaimed why must it been done under the cover of this project. I believe this is why the PEC has been backing a flawed project. Have water bill payers fund a reclaimation project that takes water away for ever being used for growth again. It seems dishonest.

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