By Sean Tubbs


Friday, October 21, 2011

Members of the city’s

Woolen Mills

neighborhood spoke out Thursday against one of the scenarios that would replace a

sewage pump station

at its existing location near

Riverview Park


“I’m appalled that we’re still talking about this,” said Karl Ackerman, a member of the

Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association’s

board of directors. “We will fight it and fight it and fight it.”


Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

is currently weighing three options for the replacement of

the Rivanna regional pump station

, which does not have the capacity to handle the large amounts of stormwater that infiltrates the sewer system after heavy rainfall.

“Under storm conditions there are discharges from manholes,” said Janice Carroll of

Hazen & Sawyer

, an engineering firm hired to develop options for the station’s replacement.

The RWSA must decide on an option by Dec. 31 in order to comply with a consent agreement it made with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

An audience was shown detailed drawings of three options under consideration at a special meeting Thursday.

Download 20111020-Pump-Station-Presentation

Source: RWSA and Hazen & Sawyer

Option A would build a new station at the same location as the existing one nearby the city’s Riverview Park. The structure would need to be at least 34.5 feet in height for equipment to be out of the flood plain. This would be the cheapest option at a cost of $27 million, or an additional increase of $2.85 a month for the average household’s water and sewer bill.

Option D would build a new station across the Rivanna River and is the most expensive scenario at $55 million, which translates to a monthly increase of $5.85.

This option costs more because of the need to build two river crossings to get sewage to the station and to convey it back to the

Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant


“Construction at this site is high risk and at high cost and would also take longer,” Carroll said.

Option E would extend the existing sewer line underground by drilling a tunnel to a station that would be built on the same property as the treatment plant. This option would cost $40 million, or a monthly increase of $4.24 for the average household.

Every single member of the Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association’s board of directors was in attendance to express their vehement opposition to Option A and to encourage the RWSA to select Option E.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:

Download 20111020-RWSA-PumpStation

“I’ve come to all these meetings, and I will continue to say that it is an outrage to us that Option A is still on the table,” said Robin Hanes.

“The key issues for Option A are working in concert with the neighborhood and also the flood plain,” Carroll said.

To make Option A more palatable to the neighborhood, Hazen & Sawyer hired architects to find ways to limit its impact.

Pete O’Shea with the firm


said Option A could create a new entranceway to Riverview Park as well as add new amenities such a picnic pavilion. One idea would be repurpose stones that previously made up the now-dismantled Woolen Mills dam.

“A lot of this is really looking at how we can catalyze some positive changes and make some additions for the park,” O’Shea said.

Neil Higgins of Bushman Dreyfus Architects presented the public with building materials that could be used to screen it from the neighborhood.

Under one approach, the building would be fitted with a corrugated metal satin finish that would reflect the trees to screen the building. Birch trees that match those on neighboring properties would be planted to serve as an additional screen.

Under another approach, a wood lattice similar to that used on the new

Smith Aquatic & Fitness Center

would be wrapped around the building to make it seem smaller.

Under both scenarios, a berm would be installed around the building.

“We’re hiding six to eight feet of the bottom of the building,” Higgins said. “We’re working to bring down that 34-foot height down visually.”

Woolen Mills resident Katie Chester was skeptical the height of building could be hidden.

“That’s a big McMansion that needs to be put in there – it’s not a small house,” Chester said.

The RWSA Board of Directors will discuss the matter at their meeting on Tuesday. The City Council will be presented with the options at their first meeting in November. The Albemarle County Service Authority will consider the options at its meeting in mid-November.

“A pumping station for wastewater is fundamental for our way of life,” said Michael Gaffney, chair of the RWSA. “No solution for this pumping station will be perfect for everyone but the goal of a clean environment requires us to make a choice.”

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