By Sean Tubbs


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The City’s representatives on the RWSA Board are Public Works Director Judith Mueller, City Manager Gary O’Connell and City Councilor Holly Edwards

After nearly a year of discussion, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) has approved an RFP calling for a series of studies designed to provide a full cost estimate and logistical analysis of a full restorative dredging of the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

. While the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA)

has announced

it will only cover those studies which pertain to maintenance dredging of the reservoir, the Charlottesville City Council has agreed to pay for those that relate to the possibility of dredging the reservoir as an alternative to or an expansion of the adopted community water supply plan.

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Download the draft RFP considered by the RWSA

The discussion and eventual vote spanned two meetings held on May 18, 2009. First, the RWSA took up the RFP at its regular Board meeting. They did so after going into executive session where they received legal advice related to the concern that dredging may interfere with wetlands that have been created due to sedimentation of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. That legal opinion was released to the public by vote of the board.

Download the letter from Attorney William Ellis to the RWSA

After RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick explained the details of the various studies to be called for in the full RFP, ACSA Executive Director Gary Fern explained the ACSA’s willingness to support the RFP, but only to support an analysis of the possibility of installing forebays to stop sedimentation into the reservoir as well a bathymetric study. Shortly thereafter, he made a motion to move forward with the RFP based on the ACSA’s vision of the scope of services.

City Manager Gary O’Connell seconded, but with a comment. He said he was representing the will of the City Council.

City Manager Gary O’Connell

“We come here with Council’s blessing and approval of this RFP, and in the spirit of working together in the community, and my belief that there will be support for us, I’d like to make a motion to amend Mr. Fern’s motion,” O’Connell said. His amendment was to include the City’s requested studies in the RFP and that the City would pay for it. He added a condition that the City’s expenses would be reimbursed if the data returned by the studies resulted in the community water supply plan being amended to include dredging for water capacity.

Fern accepted the amendment. After some discussion, the RWSA voted unanimously to approve the amended motion. Later in the evening, the City Council voted to pay for the studies it requested. Collectbritain will detail those proceedings in an upcoming story.

Several members of the public spoke to encourage the RWSA to approve the RFP. County resident Bernard Williams said that maintaining infrastructure was as important as brushing one’s teeth. Dede Smith of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan said that the City and ACSA had come to an impasse on the RFP and that the City should proceed without the ACSA’s involvement if that’s what it takes to get the information requested by the City. Former City Councilor Kevin Lynch agreed with Smith, if only to end what he described as the stalling by the ACSA. However, Lynch called for several amendments. First, he wanted the City to retain full control over the selection committee to pick a vendor. Second, he sought several technical amendments, most notably one to find out if the dredged material could be used to help fill in a runway. Third, he wanted language in the draft to be amended to encourage more contractors to apply.

Richard Collins disagreed with his fellow water activists and insisted that the ACSA should be compelled to pay for the full cost of all the dredging studies.


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