Brian Wheeler


Saturday, December 10, 2011


Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

has received nine bids for the construction of an earthen dam at the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

. The lowest bid came from Thalle Construction Co., based in Hilsborough, N.C., for $21,528,750.50 million.

The low bid falls within the range of recent cost estimates for the construction of the first phase of the dam, which would raise the reservoir pool by 30 feet. The highest bid was for almost $28.5 million.

The RWSA board of directors could award a contract at its next meeting on Dec. 28. However, construction of the dam still requires the blessing of state and federal officials and a cost-sharing arrangement between the city of Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority.

“We are not likely to issue a Notice of Award before the cost-share agreement is finalized,” said RWSA Executive Director

Thomas L. Frederick Jr

. in an email Friday. “We are proceeding with the review of bids and may ask the board on December 28 to authorize [me] to issue a Notice of Award upon completion of specified contingent events.”

Frederick added that if the city and county are unable to negotiate a cost-share agreement before the end of the year, that would be a contingency the RWSA board could authorize him to address in order to secure a construction award.

Permits for the dam in the 50-year water plan were first issued in 2008, but those were for a concrete dam design that was later abandoned because of its high cost. The permits must be adjusted to allow for the less-expensive earthen dam designed by Schnabel Engineering.

The State Water Control Board will decide whether to grant a permit modification at its meeting Wednesday in Richmond. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality staff have recommended that state officials approve the revised permit for the new Ragged Mountain dam.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still considering whether to approve a request to modify the permit it issued in June 2008. Frederick said that it was not uncommon for federal officials to wait for the state to act first.

The RWSA capital budget includes funding for the earthen dam. A supply pipeline connecting the Ragged Mountain Reservoir to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, estimated to cost about $63 million, is an additional project anticipated as part of the almost $140 million water plan.

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