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April 30, 2010

Solid waste board discusses authority’s uncertain future

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 30, 2010

At their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s Board of Directors discussed the uncertain future of the agency. The RSWA received no credible proposals after asking in late December for firms to come forward with plans to privatize operations at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and the McIntire Recycling Center.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100427-RSWA

As a result, Frederick said the RSWA is not ready to release a budget for FY2011 because it does not have clear direction from Charlottesville or Albemarle County on what services they want to continue to purchase from the authority. A contract that governs how the two jurisdictions subsidize the two services, as well as a paper sort facility, expires on June 30, 2010.

The RSWA issued the RFP in late 2009 to find out how much it would cost to privatize recycling and transfer services. Frederick said five firms expressed interest, but most of them decided not to submit a proposal because they concluded it would not be profitable to take on the work.

One firm, van der Linde Recycling, did submit a proposal but later withdrew it after RSWA officials expressed concerns about changes that van der Linde’s proposal had suggested. The firm wanted to convert McIntire to a facility where materials to be recycled could be dropped off without sorting  and they also sought a flexible pricing structure. The RFP had asked specifically for fixed prices for services to be rendered.

“The proposal we received did not include fixed pricing,” Frederick said. “It included a formula that is equal to gross revenues plus 15%, minus expenses. A major concern to the staff is the extensive auditing of a private company’s books that would be required to determine… if expenses and revenues on the Authority’s contract were properly charged, separate and distinct from other business aspects of the operation.”

20100427-Frederick RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

The RSWA receives a tipping fee for every ton brought to its facilities. Usage of RSWA solid waste transfer stations at Ivy and in Zion’s Crossroads has declined dramatically in the past few years, bringing revenues down as well. Through the first nine months of the fiscal year, RSWA revenues are 62.54% under budget.

However, there is one small success. The RSWA had budgeted it would receive about $195,000 through the sale of recycled materials. Through March, the authority took in $210,307 through recycling.

Frederick said he would now be talking to Albemarle County officials to find out much they want to invest to continue offering the services.

“I’m very interested in what we can do to scale back the operations [so that] it does pay for itself, and what services we’d have to give up to do that,” said Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd at the meeting.

20100427-RSWA-Chart Usage of the RSWA's solid waste transfer stations is down dramatically (Click to enlarge)
City Council has directed its public works director to issue an RFP to find out how much firms would charge to handle solid waste once it is picked up.  That would be a separate contract from the one the city has with Waste Management to conduct trash hauling within city limits for city residents.

Frederick suggested the RSWA could invest in its facilities in order to make them more efficient.  That would bring in more revenue.

“I think we need to understand, particularly from the County, what your long-term future desire is for services through the authority, as well as short-term,” Frederick said. “We can make some short-term decisions that may try to defer capital [investment].”

“One option is to simply get out of the solid waste business all together and let private haulers take it,” Boyd said. “I don’t know that that’s the real solution we ought to have. It scares me what would happen to solid waste in the county if we didn’t provide the services.”

Frederick said he would prepare a contingency budget for the RSWA’s operations past June 30. Boyd said perhaps the existing contract could be extended a couple of months to provide some additional room to make the decision.

Councilor David Brown was not present at the meeting. Charlottesville’s public works director, Judy Mueller, suggested holding an interim meeting to further discuss the matter.

Unable to calculate rate of recycling in 2009

The RSWA will not be able to provide a complete calculation of the rate of the community’s recycling for 2009 because one of the region’s leading recyclers is not cooperating, according to Frederick.  He said van der Linde Recycling declined to provide the agency with details of how much material was received at their facility at Zions Crossroads.

“Because the van der Linde facility now contributes substantially toward the local recycling rate, we believe any attempt to publish data without their inclusion would be substantially in error, and thereby without purpose,” wrote Frederick.

Frederick said data on its own recycling center has been supplied to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), which is legally responsible for supplying a recycling rate to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Erin Yancey, an environmental planner for TJPDC, said in an e-mail she did not expect a problem in getting the data from van der Linde.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Meeting called to order by RSWA Chair Mike Gaffney
  • 01:30 - RSWA Executive Director Tom Frederick discusses why there will not be a recycling rate for 2010
  • 04:30 - RSWA considers consent agenda, decides to skip adoption of new by-laws because Councilor David Brown was not present
  • 06:10 - Recognition of appreciation for former City Manager Gary O'Connell
  • 09:30 - Discussion begins on summary of findings from the issuance of the RFP for privatization of RSWA services
  • 16:00 - Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd asks how public process will continue on future 

April 29, 2010

Agencies reach agreement on sewer master plan

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 29, 2010

The three agencies in charge of operating and maintaining the Charlottesville-Albemarle wastewater systems have reached agreement on a master plan to upgrade local sewer infrastructure. One goal is to reduce the level of raw sewage reaching local rivers.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100427-RWSA


Since November 2008, Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority engineers have been negotiating with the city of Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority on the details of how stormwater runoff will be prevented from entering the sewer system.

In the middle of March, for example, nearly 10 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into the local watershed, according to RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. During heavy flooding, stormwater invades the sewer system and overwhelms the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“We’ve got to provide additional capacity,” Frederick said. “The operators did everything they could.”

Frederick hailed the agreement as a “positive” outcome for the environment, but warned that implementation would be costly.

“The plan will require significant monetary investment to be implemented,” Frederick said.

Under the agreement, the three agencies will work collectively to reduce by 25 percent the amount of “wet weather inflow” that infiltrates the wastewater system by 2020. Full details will be revealed later this year as consultant Greeley and Hansen completes its report.

With the agreement in place, RWSA engineers now know how much additional capacity they need to plan for when upgrading the Rivanna Pump Station, the Moores Creek Pump Station, the Schenks Branch Interceptor and the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Aeration-bay
Work continues at the Moores Creek facility. Here a new aeration basin is being built. (Source: RWSA)
Contractor Adams and Robinson is currently working on a $40.3 million upgrade of Moores Creek. This work is primarily being done to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous released into the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The RWSA board voted to allow Frederick to spend $462,000 to begin design work on expanded treatment capacity, in addition to what is being built as part of current construction. Currently, the plant is only able to handle as much as 18 million gallons per day during storm events.

The current construction plans are designed to enhance wet-weather capacity to 37.5 MGD. If the board votes later this year to proceed with construction, an additional $6.9 million investment will raise that number to 45 MGD. Part of this goal will be reached by building larger storage ponds.

Download Download report on proposed additions to Moores Creek construction work

Frederick also told the RWSA board that the General Assembly did not appropriate any money for the Water Quality Improvement Fund during the 2010 session. That means that a $21.6 million grant committed to the RWSA to pay for the work may actually end up closer to $16.4 million.

Download Download DEQ letter explaining cuts in WQIF funding


Frederick said despite the lack of funding, he did not think the RWSA would change its proposed rates for FY2011.

The agreement will have more of an effect on the RWSA’s capital projects than those in the city and county, but the director of Charlottesville’s utilities said the negotiations bode well for the community.

“We have planned out our sewer system for the future,” said Lauren Hildebrand, the city’s director of utilities. She said that while her five-year capital improvement plan will not change as a result of the sewer study, the new plan will allow her to focus her crews on the task of relining old sewer pipes and sealing manholes to prevent infiltration.

Hildebrand said the city’s highest priority is to work on neighborhoods in the Schenks Branch basin. The highest priority in the county is to work on patching up sewer lines in the Crozet area.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Meeting called to order by Mike Gaffney, Chair of the RWSA
  • 01:50 - Monthly report from Executive Director Tom Frederick
  • 05:15 - Frederick reports DEQ is suspending grant payments because of a lack of funding
  • 08:20 - Gaffney asks if the RWSA will have to find additional $5.2 million
  • 10:11 - Public comment from Kevin Lynch of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
  • 14:05 - Public comment from Dede Smith of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
  • 16:07 - Public comment from Liz Palmer of the Rivanna River Basin Commission
  • 20:45 - Frederick responds to matters from the public
  • 21:45 - Discussion of consent agenda
  • 22:20 - Other business: Discussion of request for design services for additional Moores Creek upgrades
  • 23:30 - Ron Taylor of Hazen and Sawyer updates RWSA Board on the what work will be done
  • 32:00 - Supervisor Ken Boyd asks why the additional capacity at Moores Creek wasn't known before construction began
  • 34:30 - Boyd follows up on Frederick's question and asks where money comes from for additional projects
  • 38:45 - ACSA Executive Director Gary O'Connell asks question about why the project will be phased
  • 40:30 - Boyd asks for better finacial planning, prompting disussion about how to improve
  • 43:00 - RWSA Finance Director Lonnie Wood answers questions about bond financing
  • 48:00 - Frederick says lack of direction so far on how proceed with community water supply plan holding up CIP
  • 55:30 - Discussion begins on dam safety guidance

April 28, 2010

City planners hold rescheduled workshop on residential zoning changes

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
 
The Charlottesville Planning Commission met Tuesday in a workshop to consider changes to the city’s residential zoning ordinance. However, for the second meeting in a row, public participation was well below expectations.

In late January, the commission began its review of the “zoning matrix,” a lengthy list of possible uses in each district of the city. Throughout 2010, city staff members are facilitating the commission’s review of not only residential zoning, but also of uses allowed on commercial and industrial properties.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100427-CityPC-zoning-matrix

When the public did not come to a late-evening workshop April 12, the commission decided to reschedule the meeting.

“I am a little disappointed there has not been more interest,” said Commissioner Genevieve Keller in an interview. “People often don’t pay attention until there is something next door to them and then they call the city to complain.”

20100427-CityPC1
Workshop participants (Left to Right) Kay Slaughter, Commissioner Bill Emory, Missy Creasy, Peter Hedlund, and Richard Harris
“There are so many documents, it’s hard for the public to get a hold on what is important,” said former Mayor Kay Slaughter, one of only two residents who came out Tuesday. “If you really want public input, it needs bullet points. I am experienced, I am a lawyer, and this is daunting.”

Peter Hedlund, representing the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association, said it was difficult to review the documents on the city’s Web site and that the notice of the meeting was late. When the meeting began, it still had not been advertised on the city’s own site.

In a small conference room with four of seven commissioners present, Hedlund took the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the implications for accessory apartments. The workshop format allowed city staff and commissioners to answer questions and receive detailed feedback.

20100427-CityPC2
City Planning Commissioners
Michael Osteen (Left) and Jason Pearson (Right)
“We have experience, from people coming before us, that people care a lot about what kinds of activities occur in their residential neighborhoods,” Planning Commission Chairman Jason Pearson said in mid-April. “We are now deliberating on what changes are appropriate in order to make sure this document is consistent with the ambitions of the community with respect to the character of residential neighborhoods.”

Other city leaders have said that the commission’s work on the zoning matrix has come at the expense of more important issues.

“Is the zoning matrix important? Yeah it’s important, like it’s important to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Commissioner Bill Emory said in an interview.

“Certainly it is important, and it is one of our work items to align ordinance periods and commas with the general idea of the Comprehensive Plan,” Emory said. “But there are very critical structural misalignments in Charlottesville’s zoning code that have existed, essentially since 1958, that we desperately need to address.”

Emory pointed to major mixed-use developments being approved near residential neighborhoods in the Cherry Avenue entrance corridor. Specifically, the proposed Grove Square development in the Fifeville neighborhood near the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Pearson said it was his concerns about zoning in the Cherry Avenue corridor that motivated him to seek appointment to the Planning Commission in the first place. He maintains that the commission’s review of residential zoning remains an important first step.

Pearson cited the Belmont neighborhood’s recent concerns about noise from restaurants as an example of how the city’s zoning definitions and the uses allowed in the zoning matrix have created conflicts.

“I am comfortable starting with the simpler piece, getting our feet with residential, and then moving on to what I anticipate will be more complex and more location specific,” Pearson said in an interview.

The commission will wrap up its review of the residential zoning at its meeting May 11, when it will hold a public hearing. Afterwards, it will decide on the recommendations to pass along to the City Council. While the council considers the recommended changes this summer, the commission will begin its review of commercial and industrial zoning.

April 27, 2010

RWSA Board directs Frederick to review water demand projections

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) will consider one more study to determine if the community water supply plan adopted four years ago should be implemented. On Tuesday, the RWSA Board of Directors asked executive director Tom Frederick to find an engineering firm to study whether the demand projections on which the 2006 plan is based are still valid.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:

Download 20100427-RWSA-DemandAnalysis

20100427-Norris
Dave Norris
The move was made at the request of City Councilor Dave Norris. City Council has asked for multiple studies to reexamine various elements of the plan to address concerns by some citizens that it is too expensive and provides more water than the community needs.

In 2004, the firm Gannett Fleming published a demand analysis projecting that the community would require 18.7 million gallons a day by the year 2055 in order to meet “safe-yield” requirements for a growing population and for a severe drought.

Norris said he wanted that analysis to be updated with three new pieces of information: actual water consumption figures since 2004, data on the city’s conservation measures, and land use decisions made since 2004. For instance, Norris said the county might not need as much water because the Biscuit Run development will be a state park.

“Let’s keep it focused on those three inputs and not go back to square one,” Norris said.

The topic came up after Frederick asked for guidance on how to respond to state regulators regarding the future of the existing Ragged Mountain Dam.  Built in 1908, the Lower Ragged Mountain Dam has been operating under a conditional certificate after concerns were raised in a 1978 inspection. The RWSA has until August 2010 to let the state agency that oversees dam safety know if the dam will be replaced or if repairs will be made to address concerns that the dam could collapse after an extreme storm.

Norris said Frederick should simply tell state officials that the community is taking many steps to solve its community water supply plan, and should ask for another extension.

There are four studies currently underway.

Schnabel Engineering is expected to prepare a new cost estimate for a new Ragged Mountain Dam in time for the RWSA Board’s May meeting. At that time, RWSA will also brief board members on the pros and cons of three potential routes to pump water into the expanded Ragged Mountain Reservoir, which needs to be filled by an external source because it has a very small watershed.

A study by HDR Engineering that will develop a cost estimate for a restorative dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir has been delayed a month, and will now be ready in July. Volkert Engineering will have also completed a study on necessary improvements to I-64 to prevent spills from entering the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

In addition to the demand analysis review, another study that will not be ready in time for an August decision is one commissioned by the city on the feasibility of repairing the existing dam and building on top of it. Public Works Director Judy Mueller said a contractor has been tentatively selected, but did not release any further details. This study will likely not be ready until the end of the year.

Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd said he is listening to critics of the plan, but added he has not yet seen any data that leads him to reconsider the 2006 plan. He said he was concerned that by not moving forward, the community is losing out on a competitive bidding environment that could lower the costs of building the infrastructure called for in the plan.

RWSA Chair Mike Gaffney suggested that the RWSA Board may have enough information on which to base a decision on the future of the Ragged Mountain Dam by August.  However, Norris said Council can’t make a decision until they have a new demand analysis and a cost estimate for repairing the spillway. 

“It may well be that if forced to make a decision [on dam safety] without all the information that we need, Council [will] simply spend a few millions dollars to fix the spillway,” Norris said. “It’s worth it to take the time to get the information.”

Boyd made a motion to direct Frederick to find a consultant to perform the calculations at a cost under $30,000. That will allow the RWSA to bypass the public procurement process, which would require the issuance of an RFP.

Frederick said he was not sure if he would be able to accomplish that goal.

“We are being asked to do something that’s not commonly done, and we will be cautious to make sure that we are addressing exactly what the Board is wanting us to do,” Frederick said.

April 26, 2010

Miller Center report on the media and democratic governance; Update on Daily Progress partnership

MillerCenter-smThe Miller Center of Public Affairs recently published the results of a year-long study of the state of media and democratic governance. The project was initiated by former Governor Gerald Baliles after he gave a speech at the 2009 Virginia Press Association upon his acceptance of the 2009 VPA Virginian of the Year Award. His speech was entitled: "The Fourth Estate and the Governance of the Country."

In February 2010, I had the privilege to brief the Miller Center team in Washington, D.C., along with McGregor McCance, Managing Editor of The Daily Progress, as they were interested in a progress report on the unique partnership between our organizations.

Governor Baliles released the Miller Center's report at the 2010 VPA meeting [download remarks].

Report Introduction

"I began talking with friends and colleagues about the possible dangers lurking for citizens in a democracy with fewer journalists, fewer major sources of traditional news, and an explosion of untested formats such as blogs, bloggers, and social media....For the past year, the Miller Center has reached out across the nation to key media leaders, stakeholders, policy makers and academic experts and created a meeting space to systematically address the future prospects for the infrastructure of news journalism and the effects of new trends in newspapers and media on the governance of the country."

Gerald L. Baliles
Director, Miller Center of Public Affairs
University of Virginia
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia (1986–1990)

Looking over the results from the fist six-months of the partnership between The Daily Progress and Charlottesville Tomorrow, I think we have some very positive data to share.

  • About 50% of Charlottesville Tomorrow's stories are now published in The Daily Progress
  • 20100426-DP-metrics With the addition of Charlottesville Tomorrow's reporting, the newspaper's coverage of growth and development issues has increased by about 20% as compared to the twelve months before the partnership (see chart at right or download this summary with trends before/after)
  • We have established very collaborative operational procedures between our editorial and reporting teams
  • We partnered to produce the 2009 voter guide for local elections
  • The public is getting access to a lot more information about growth and development issues in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

As always, we would appreciate any feedback about this ongoing collaboration.  You can leave a comment on this post or contact me directly at bwheeler@cvilletomorrow.org or via phone at 434.260.1533.

Brian Wheeler
Executive Director
Charlottesville Tomorrow

Elected officials in Charlottesville-Albemarle meet to discuss collaboration and cooperation

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, Delegate David Toscano convened the first ever joint meeting of the Charlottesville City Council, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, and the elected city and county school boards.  Toscano, who represents all of Charlottesville and portions of Albemarle in the 57th district in the Virginia General Assembly, called the meeting for city and county leaders to discuss areas for future cooperation.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:Download 20100424-Toscano-Summit

The impetus for the meeting was disagreement between the city and county during the 2010 general assembly session related to a budget amendment that sought to take revenue sharing into account for education funding.  Had the budget amendment requested by Delegate Rob Bell passed, Albemarle would have gained about $2.8 million in education funding.  Charlottesville’s education funding was to be lowered by the same amount. The budget amendment would not have altered the 1982 revenue sharing agreement.

The meeting was held in the Paul Goodloe McIntire Room of the McIntire Library on Market Street in Charlottesville.  See coverage by The Daily Progress.

Participants:

  • Delegate David Toscano (D-57th)
  • Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25th)
  • Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
    Ann Mallek, Chair; Ken Boyd; Lindsay Dorrier; Dennis Rooker; Duane Snow; Rodney Thomas
  • Charlottesville City Council
    Dave Norris, Mayor; David Brown; Holly Edwards; Satyendra Huja; Kristin Szakos
  • Albemarle County School Board
    Ron Price, Chair; Steve Koleszar; Diantha McKeel; Pamela Moynihan; Eric Strucko; Brian Wheeler. (Absent: Barbara Mouly)
  • Charlottesville City School Board
    Ned Michie, Acting Chair; Colette Blount; Llezelle Dugger; Juandiego Wade. (Absent: Leah Puryear, Chair; Alvin Edwards; Kathy Galvin)
  • Dr. Rosa Atkins, Superintendent, Charlottesville City Public Schools
  • Dr. Pam Moran, Superintendent, Albemarle County Public Schools

NOTE: Brian Wheeler, Executive Director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, is also a member of the Albemarle County School Board and a participant in this meeting.  As a result, there will not be any in-depth analysis of the meeting and the audio is being provided here as a public service and to document the discussion related to city-county cooperation and the areas the Charlottesville Tomorrow covers in its reporting.  The speakers are shown in the timeline for identification purposes only.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

Coming soon...

April 24, 2010

Parkway opponents denied a hearing by Virginia Supreme Court

DailyProgress By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, April 24, 2010

The opponents of the Meadowcreek Parkway learned Friday that their appeal to stop the use of city-owned land in Albemarle for the county’s portion of the parkway has been dismissed by the Virginia Supreme Court.

The court determined that the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park had failed to file its appeal in a timely matter. The coalition is continuing to prepare for a potential federal lawsuit against the portions of the parkway located within the city of Charlottesville.

“We raised a number of grounds for the court not to take the case,” said Craig Brown, the Charlottesville city attorney. “The fact it was not filed in a timely matter was one of those grounds. This round seems to be over, and it was concluded in favor of the city and the department of transportation.”

The coalition’s Peter Kleeman in an interview said the group’s “original appeal was submitted within the time required for an appeal, but the clerk notified us that it did not include some of the required material.”

“The supplemental material was provided, but not considered timely,” he said.

The case of Peter Kleeman, et al. v. City of Charlottesville was appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court after a June ruling from Charlottesville Circuit Judge Jay Swett. Swett denied the coalition’s claim that a City Council vote needed to be a supermajority - four of five members - to lawfully convey property to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In February, city resident Kleeman made oral arguments over the telephone with a three-judge panel of the Virginia Supreme Court, which reviewed whether to hear his group’s legal appeal.

Kleeman argued that the City Council’s granting of a permanent easement allowing construction of the road was inconsistent with the Virginia Constitution and should be voided.

The coalition has recently met with Brown, at the direction of the City Council, to review procedural matters so that opponents of the parkway can challenge the project in federal court before ground is broken in McIntire Park.

The coalition has prepared a resolution for the council’s consideration that, if approved, would prevent construction of the parkway south of Melbourne Road until the Federal Highway Administration has made its “final determination” on the plans for a grade-separated interchange at the U.S. 250 Bypass.

The coalition has long insisted that the parkway should be viewed as one federal project and that its segmentation is designed to avoid a more extensive environmental review.

“We believe that if the parkway were viewed as one project, other alternatives beyond going through McIntire Park would be considered,” Kleeman said. “It would conceivably change the alignment of the project and our primary goal of preserving McIntire Park might be achieved.”

Local attorney Robert P. Hodous, a parkway supporter who works with the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview that any other alignment of the parkway didn’t make sense.

“When you look at what has been done to satisfy the city, they have gotten everything they have asked for,” Hodous said. “They got the replacement park land, they got it as a two-lane road, and they got the separate grade-separated interchange.”

Meanwhile, VDOT has negotiated a 60-day extension for the low bid to construct the city’s portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway, making it possible to still award a contract for more than $2 million less than the original estimate. The lowest bid, for $3.37 million, came from Key Construction Co. Inc., based in Clarksville. The project’s original construction estimate was for $5.58 million.

April 23, 2010

Virginia water official explains new pollution limits

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 23, 2010

New federal and state regulations are putting pressure on local governments to get tougher on preventing pollutants from entering the state’s largest watershed.

Last week, Jack Frye, director of the Division of Soil and Water at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, updated members of the Rivanna River Basin Commission on a mandate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that reach the Chesapeake Bay.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100415-TMDL-Jack-Frye


20100415-Jack-Frye Jack Frye
“In 1985, we were over 100 million pounds [of nitrogen] in Virginia,” Frye said. “The ultimate goal is to get down to under 60 million a year by 2025.”

The passage of the federal Clean Water Act established a new definition called a Total Maximum Daily Load, which refers to the total amount of pollutants allowed to enter into a body of water before water quality becomes impaired.

In order to hasten efforts to clean up the Chesapeake, these figures are being revised in order to reduce even further the amount allowed into the bay. Virginia is required to come up with a TMDL for several pollutants by May 1, 2011.

A new set of stormwater regulations was expected to be approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell earlier this year, but the General Assembly suspended them in March for another round of review.

Download Download Jack Frye's TMDL presentation


Many in the development community were concerned they would have too much of an impact. Frye said the new regulations will address how much stormwater can leave a piece of developed land. That will require site plans to include ways to capture water rather than let it flow straight into the watershed.

20100415-Slide1   (Source:DCR)

The amendments to the stormwater regulations will also require all localities in Virginia to either create a stormwater management program or pay DCR to do the work instead.

“Our hope would be that we would have some incentive packages, and that in an ideal world we would never have to run a single program,” Frye said.

Localities already have the ability to impose a stormwater fee to pay for infrastructure improvements, but neither Charlottesville nor Albemarle County has done so.

The regulation amendments also will encourage localities and developers to work to reduce sediment that enters the watershed. The DCR will offer guidance on best management practices for stormwater, on how existing developments will be affected and how inspections will be conducted.

There will be a new way in which impervious surfaces will be calculated in order to encourage developers to consider how stormwater is handled at the beginning of the site plan process.

“The new one is more about not designing the site first and trying to shoehorn things in, but looking at the site to try to minimize impervious surfaces,” Frye said. “You’ll also get credit for not allowing runoff by capturing rainwater.”

20100415-Slide2

(Source:DCR)

Frye compared the possibilities of readjusting water management to the evolution of the local food movement.

“I think things like rainwater reuse and harvesting is critically important in Virginia, where all localities are doing these water plans,” Frye said. “Looking at the 36 to 43 inches of rain we typically get in a year ... [this] creates some real opportunities for us here in Virginia to change our paradigm about how we do local water management.”

One way by which levels of nitrogen and phosphorous will be reduced is through upgrades of wastewater treatment plants. Virginia and individual localities will spend nearly $1.5 billion to improve water quality, including the $40.3 million in improvements at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Draft TMDL plan for the entire Chesapeake Bay will be completed by Aug. 1, after which the public review process will begin. The EPA is expected to release its final Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in December.

The EPA is holding a webinar on the topic for interested parties on May 4.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Introduction of Jack Frye by Robbi Savage, executive director of the Rivanna Conservation Society
  • 02:40 - RRBC Executive Director Leslie Middleton describes RRBC's interest
  • 04:15 - Jack Frye begins his presentation
  • 12:30 - Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek asks a question about fees
  • 16:08 - Question about soil-testing that may be required
  • 19:30 - Question about BMPs and problem of dealing with multiple site conditions with one regulation
  • 26:30 - Frye updates RRBC on where the TMDL regulations are in the development process
  • 29:00 - Frye describes the equation that calculates the TMDL
  • 31:00 - A question about TMDLs are currently in the implementation phase
  • 32:20 - Frye describes efforts to improve wastewater and reduce effluent from livestock
  • 39:00 - Frye describes where the state is on the schedule
  • 41:20 - Question about what happens if schedule is not kept and EPA deadline is not meant
  • 52:30 - Question about whether the RRBC can get funding to help spread awareness of new TMDL

What Transportation Projects Are Important to You?

Slide0c Developing the Fiscal Year 2011 Work Program

The United Planning and Work Program (UPWP) is now available for public review.  The MPO is seeking public comment on the Draft Fiscal Year 2011 Unified Planning and Work Program (UPWP). The UPWP sets the priorities for transportation and planning efforts to be conducted by the MPO.

Copies of the Draft FY11 UPWP will be available to the public in the following locations:  TJPDC website, TJPDC office (401 E. Water Street), local libraries, local government planning offices, and the VDOT Charlottesville Residency. 

Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO Public Hearings:
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 4:00 p.m.
Two public hearings, hosted by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), are scheduled for Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.  Both public hearings will be held at City Space: 100 5th Street NE, on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902.

Comments regarding the Draft FY11 UPWP may be submitted prior to Tuesday, May 25, 2010 via telephone, fax, e-mail, or letter to the MPO:  POB 1505, Charlottesville, VA 22902; phone: (434) 979-7310; fax: 979-1597; email: info@tjpdc.org. Hearing impaired persons can call 711 for access. 

The Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO is the forum for cooperative transportation decision-making among Charlottesville, Albemarle, state and federal officials. The MPO considers long-range regional projects and combines public input, technical data, and agency collaboration to develop forward-thinking solutions.   For more information about the Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO, visit their website.

Charlottesville Civic Action - Nonprofits can apply now for messaging help and exhibit opportunity

Created as a partnership between the Charlottesville Community Design Center and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Charlottesville Civic Action is an open challenge to local nonprofit organizations to address the following question:

“What is the most promising opportunity to strengthen our community over the next decade, and what action will your organization take to make a difference?”

20100423-civic-action
Of those who respond, up to 10 organizations will be selected to create a poster, with complimentary graphic design help, that creatively illustrates who they are and how their organization chose to respond to the question. Selected organizations will get expert help to develop a messaging campaign articulating the nonprofit's action plan.

The posters will be featured in a public exhibition hosted in the CCDC exhibit gallery in June and July of 2010. There is no fee to enter - interested non-profits have until May 3, 2010 to apply online.

Charlottesville Tomorrow sees this effort as a great way to help the local nonprofit sector boost its capacity to implement positive change, get some free publicity, and attract the attention of local officials about their work. 

Charlottesville Civic Action 2010 from CCDC on Vimeo.