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August 17, 2009

Majority of Albemarle candidates support adopted water supply plan

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By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, August 17, 2009

Four of the six candidates running for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have signed a statement written by proponents of the adopted 50-year community water supply plan. Dr. Liz Palmer, a member of the Albemarle County Service Authority Board of Directors, met with all six candidates to press her view that the adopted community water supply plan is the best use of community resources.

“I saw the election as a time when people would be listening more and sort of being more engaged in local issues,” Palmer said. “If the candidates running for Supervisor understood in depth the facts then they could better inform their constituents during the election.”

Here’s the brief consensus statement,which was written by a group of proponents of the water plan with input from the candidates:

Consensus Statement on the 50 year Water Supply Plan as endorsed by candidates for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

Each of us has independently reviewed the specifics of our community’s long-term Water Supply Plan. We have concluded that the plan as approved by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in 2006 meets our community’s obligations to present and future citizens in the most practical, environmentally sound and economical way possible. We support moving ahead with this plan as soon as possible.

The long term Community Water Supply Plan is designed to satisfy the requirements of a federal and state-mandated permitting process. It does not address sedimentation of the South Fork Rivanna River Reservoir. We believe the multifaceted issue of sedimentation and dredging is best tackled outside the scope of the long term Water Supply Plan. This will allow local government greater flexibility in meeting community needs and expectations for this beautiful community reservoir. We support the findings and recommendations of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir Stewardship Task Force and expect the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to move forward with those recommendations. We are open to the possibility of selective dredging to meet community expectations and will evaluate information as it becomes available.

Statement-cropped
Click to enlarge)

Incumbent Supervisors Dennis Rooker (I-Jack Jouett) and David Slutzky (D-Rio) signed the statement, as did candidates in the Samuel Miller District, Madison Cummings (D) and Duane Snow (R). Two other candidates declined to sign the statement.

John Lowry (I-Samuel Miller), declined to sign the pledge because he told the Daily Progress he had already made a statement on the issue on June 3, 2009. In that statement, Lowry wrote that he supported the existing plan, but did not rule out including dredging as a component of increasing the capacity of the public water system.

“I have no objections to considering dredging the Rivanna Reservoir, particularly if the goal is to extend its lifespan,” Lowry wrote. 

Rodney Thomas (R-Rio), also declined to sign the pledge. In an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow, Thomas said he is a supporter of the new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir as well as new pipeline to connect it with the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. However, he said he did not sign Palmer’s statement because he thinks other alternatives may come to light.

“I know that all new people are going to be involved in this and they may come up with a better idea,” Thomas said. The RWSA is currently hiring a new designer for the dam, and earlier this month selected HDR Consulting to perform a dredging feasibility study. However, Thomas said dredging should be done to expand the capacity above and beyond the 50-year plan.

“I am not really for dredging because I think they should have done that for 35 years,” Thomas said. “I don’t think dredging should be made part of the 50-year water plan because it holds [the plan] up and they may have to get [the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Environmental Quality permits] recertified.”

Palmer said she did not try to include the current City Council candidates in the statement because she did not want to go against the will of Council. Council has been the leader in the efforts to further evaluate dredging with a feasibility study.

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