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October 07, 2008

Frederick updates Supervisors on landfill, stream releases, sewer upgrades, and Ragged Mountain Dam

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Tom Frederick, Executive Director,
Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority / Rivanna Solid Waste Authority

At their meeting October 1, 2008, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors heard a quarterly update  from Tom Frederick, Executive Director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority which is the wholesaler for public water and sewer in the City of Charlottesville and in the County’s urban areas [download report]. 

Frederick reported on the Ivy landfill, voluntary stream releases in the Moormans River, the South Fork Reservoir Stewardship Task Force, the Meadowcreek sewer interceptor upgrade, and the status of the construction of a new Ragged Mountain Dam as part of the 50 year community water supply.

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Tom Frederick updated the Supervisors on the acquisition of right of way for construction and permanent easements along the path of the Meadowcreek Interceptor upgrade in the City near Greenbrier Park. 

"We are optimistic about continuing the project," said Frederick, "but not without facing some challenges...in trying to balance what our engineers are telling us with respect to what is required for the proper construction of a pipeline, and in order to obtain interest from bidders [for construction work], versus some of the needs in the community and property owners... to try to minimize the footprint of the project."

According to Frederick, the RWSA is challenged by the language in the easements negotiated in the 1950s that do not allow them to come back and install a larger sewer pipeline.  An upgraded sewer interceptor will facilitate development projects in Albemarle County like Albemarle Place.  Frederick said they are seeking amendments to old easements and trying to accommodate the City Council's request to minimize the width of the easements and the construction area.  According to his written report, the RWSA is "continuing with easement acquisition and permit authorizations in preparation for scheduled 2009 construction."

On the 50-year Community Water Supply Plan, the Supervisors and Frederick discussed the increased Ragged Mountain Dam cost estimates and the effort to assemble a panel of dam experts to review the engineering plans.  Frederick thanked the Board of Supervisors for their patience. 

"I appreciate very much...the patience you are showing through this pause [in the dam project]," said Frederick.  "It seems to me to be very much worth the investment to take this pause and get some answers, and then base our decisions at a later point in time as to what that means in terms of the direction of the project.  [We should] try to make those decisions after we get [information from] this expert panel."

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) was the first to share his assessment of how the RWSA has handled the challenges related to the Ragged Mountain Dam. "I want to personally express my appreciation for the way you and the [RWSA] Board have approached the challenge you have encountered," said Slutzky.  "What you are doing, and I think it's absolutely in the community's interest, is you are saying, 'We need to know what the facts are.'"

Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) remarked about the description of the project as being on a "pause."  "I think that's important," said Boyd.  "This is not a stop work order."

Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) asked Frederick if he would act on any of the recent recommendations, or alternative approaches, as presented by Gannett Fleming, the engineering firm engaged to work on the Ragged Mountain project.  Frederick said he would not take immediate action on those recommendations.  "We think this is a broad community decision," said Frederick, "and we need to pull the facts together first."

"The expert panel will review the list of items that Gannett Fleming came up with, and we think that's a healthy process to do that," said Frederick. "I am not going to be recommending that this community take action on one of those without first hearing from the expert panel."

Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) echoed the comments made by Slutzky.  "I want to thank you for the way you have handled this, and the [RWSA] Board for the way it has handled a lot of complexities with this project."  

Rooker said in his experience as an attorney many contracts for construction have a "rock clause" that deals with uncertainties related to existing conditions underground.  "They are to be commended for doing the geotechnical work before they got into signing a contract [for construction of the dam]."

Rooker asked about the increased cost estimates related to the embankment work along Interstate 64 where a larger reservoir would meet the road. Frederick said there had been no detailed discussions with VDOT about the protection of the roadway and that this matter would be considered by the expert panel.

Boyd said he was asked by a member of the news media at the September 22, 2008 press conference whether the Board of Supervisors had a consensus opinion on the decisions being made by the RWSA.  Boyd said he reported then that he thought that the Board of Supervisors supported this approach, but that it would be worthwhile to collectively say so at this opportunity.   The Board then reached consensus that it supported Frederick and the approach being taken by the RWSA.


  • 01:30 -- Tom Frederick reports on construction of the new leachate collection system for the old Ivy Landfill
  • 03:20 -- Frederick reports on voluntary stream releases in the Moormans River from Sugar Hollow Reservoir
  • 07:00 -- Frederick reports on the South Fork Reservoir Stewardship Task Force
  • 08:00 -- Frederick reports on the Meadowcreek sewer interceptor upgrade
  • 16:20 -- Frederick reports on the status of the construction of a new Ragged Mountain Dam
  • 19:08 -- Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) thanks Frederick and the RWSA for their handling of the Ragged Mountain Dam project
  • 19:42 -- Comments by Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna)
  • 20:00 -- Comments by Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller)
  • 21:09 -- Comments by Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett)
  • 25:55 -- Boyd asks Board whether there is consensus that they support the RWSA's approach on the Ragged Mountain Dam and the expert panel

Brian Wheeler


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