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May 08, 2012

City proposes sewer rate increase, water rate decrease

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Charlottesville officials are proposing a slight decrease in water rates for the upcoming fiscal year, but a double-digit increase in the rate for sewer services. 
 
Sewer rates are increasing primarily due to a 12.1 percent increase from the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority,” said Bernard Wray, the city’s director of finance. 
 
Sewer-expenses
Comparison of FY2012 and FY2013 wastewater expenses. (Source: City of Charlottesville)
The sewer rate would increase from $44.70 to $50.25 per 1,000 cubic feet, or a 12.4 percent increase.
To keep the increase from being higher, the city will spend just over $1 million from its rate stabilization fund. Without doing so, the proposed rates would have been $55.23 per 1,000 cubic feet. 
 
The average monthly sewer bill for a household will rise from $25.10 to $27.72, an increase of $2.62 or 10.44 percent. 
 
The increase is in part to help cover $201 million in capital improvements the RWSA will undertake in the next five years. Over two-thirds of the proposed projects are specifically to upgrade the sewer system. 
 

Continue reading "City proposes sewer rate increase, water rate decrease" »

May 03, 2012

Builders prepare for higher water, sewer fees in Albemarle

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Developers building homes and businesses in Albemarle can expect to pay higher fees over the next several years to connect to the county’s water and sewer system.
 
That fact has raised the concern of Neil Williamson, president of the Free Enterprise Forum.
 
Connection-fee-chart
This chart depicts a history of ACSA connection fees since 2000. Click to enlarge.
“This year’s double-digit increase is on top of a 15 percent increase last year and the [Albemarle County Service Authority] is projecting annual 10 percent increases for the foreseeable future,” Williamson said in an interview.
 
Williamson said the fees will result in higher home prices because developers will pass on the cost to buyers. He warned that if fees keep increasing, builders will not be able to afford to connect.
 
Gary O’Connell, executive director of the ACSA, said he understands developers are not happy about the high fees but added they are necessary to pay for additional capacity, as well as maintenance.
 
“The last thing [developers] want to hear is not being able to have the capacity to handle future growth and developments, so we have to go a step ahead and be ready for that,” O’Connell said in a briefing before the county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.
 
For example, construction of the Stonefield development was delayed for several years because there was not sufficient sewer capacity.
 

Continue reading "Builders prepare for higher water, sewer fees in Albemarle" »

Albemarle Supervisors question chloramines decisionmaking

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 3, 2012

At their meeting Wednesday, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors entered one water controversy and learned another had reached a major milestone. Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the executive director of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, provided an update on plans to add chloramines to the local water supply and the status of construction of the new Ragged Mountain Dam.

Chloramines-lee-ro
Chloramines disinfection equipment in Los Angeles, CA
Photo used by permission of LEE & RO, Inc.

Download recent chloramine documentation
shared with the RWSA Board of Directors

Download

March 9, 2012 memo summarizing basis for chloramines project

Download

July 2011 Executive Summary from consultant Hazen and Sawyer

Download
EPA background information on chloramines

 

Related stories by Charlottesville Tomorrow

Chloramines in drinking water to be topic of public forum in June, April 24, 2012, by Brian Wheeler

Chemical engineer briefs ACSA on chloramines, April 21, 2012, by Sean Tubbs

RWSA makes case for adding chloramines to water supply, April 4, 2012, by Courtney Beale

Safety of chloramines questioned: Disinfectant to be added into local water supply starting in 2014, March 13, 2012, by Courtney Beale & Brian Wheeler

Albemarle warns of rising sewer costs and continues to question move of pump station, February 29, 2012, by Brian Wheeler

Supervisors Kenneth C. Boyd and Ann H. Mallek both expressed concerns about the process behind the decision to implement chloramines as a water treatment chemical. Mallek was concerned about how something that has become so controversial could have passed by the Albemarle supervisors, seemingly without review.

"We wouldn't have known to request information if we didn't know it was happening," Mallek said. "So that's why some citizens feel as if they're late to the party."

Frederick responded by saying that the issues surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency's new disinfection byproduct regulations and their impacts on the capital improvement plan were heard during the March 2011 and May 2011 RWSA board meetings, both of which included opportunities for public comment.

Chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, will be replacing chlorine in the urban ring's water supply as a secondary disinfectant. Stricter EPA regulations regarding byproduct levels have led to its use in many localities throughout the country. Concerns about chloramines have arisen because some say chloramines pose a greater health risk than traditional chlorine.

Boyd had an explanation as to why the issues surrounding chloramines were not brought to the forefront of their attention sooner.

"I think what happened was everybody was fixated on the dam at the time," Boyd said. "They weren't really paying attention."

Boyd, the county's elected representative on the RWSA board, wanted the conflicting arguments about chloramination to be better presented to the Albemarle supervisors as well as the RWSA board.

"I didn't know that there were these opposing viewpoints on the safeness of using chloramines," Boyd said. "That was never really in any of the reports we got from Rivanna."

"I'm not saying this as a criticism," Boyd added. "I just think that... going forward, when there are controversial issues there, if you could present that to us at the Rivanna board, we would know more."

Boyd suggested that a "favorable conditions and unfavorable conditions" section be added to future RWSA's reports.

Frederick and the supervisors agreed that a public information session about chloramines should be held. Frederick asked that questions be sent to the RWSA ahead of time so that their consultant, Hazen and Saywer, could prepare.

However, Mallek expressed concern that only one consulting firm researched the RWSA's water treatment options.

Continue reading "Albemarle Supervisors question chloramines decisionmaking" »

April 24, 2012

Chloramines in drinking water to be topic of public forum in June

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The future plans for treating public drinking water dominated Tuesday’s meeting of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority. However, the plan to introduce chloramines as a new disinfectant wasn’t even on the board’s meeting agenda.

Chloramines-lee-ro
Chloramines disinfection equipment in Los Angeles, CA
Photo used by permission of LEE & RO, Inc.

Download recent chloramine documentation
shared with the RWSA Board of Directors

Download

March 9, 2012 memo summarizing basis for chloramines project

Download

July 2011 Executive Summary from consultant Hazen and Sawyer

Download
EPA background information on chloramines

 

Related stories by Charlottesville Tomorrow

Chemical engineer briefs ACSA on chloramines, April 21, 2012, by Sean Tubbs

RWSA makes case for adding chloramines to water supply, April 4, 2012, by Courtney Beale

Safety of chloramines questioned: Disinfectant to be added into local water supply starting in 2014, March 13, 2012, by Courtney Beale & Brian Wheeler

Albemarle warns of rising sewer costs and continues to question move of pump station, February 29, 2012, by Brian Wheeler

It was comments by two Charlottesville city councilors and two concerned citizens that sparked the board’s discussion of the chloramines project it approved in February. They secured a commitment to a June public information session to allow for more input before the chloramines project moves much further ahead.

The local chloramines debate has gotten the attention of activists in other parts of the country too, including the team working with Erin Brockovich, the woman who famously took on California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company for chromium contamination of groundwater.

Robert W. Bowcock, an environmental investigator with Integrated Resource Management who works with Brockovich, said chloramine is quickly becoming a national issue. That’s in part because of recent changes in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that the RWSA says require action before October 2014.

“It’s a national problem and we have been receiving concerns from many of the communities near clean-up sites around the country that Erin’s involved in,” Bowcock said in an interview. “Erin Brockovich and I are getting involved because these stage 2 EPA regulations are just hitting now.”


 

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120424-RWSA-chloramines

Starting in 2014, the RWSA intends to replace chlorine with chloramines as the second step in the water treatment process, a project with capital costs of $5 million. The water authority says it is being compelled by tougher EPA regulations, and that chloramines are the best bang for the treatment buck.

The water treatment plants in Crozet and Scottsville, however, are recommended to receive a carbon filtration system with continued use of chlorine.

Charlottesville residents Lorrie Delehanty and Dr. Julia Whiting found themselves on the front lines of the debate during Tuesday’s public comment period before the RWSA board.

Whiting, a physician in emergency medicine, said she was concerned about potential health consequences of using chloramines as an additional disinfectant.

“Chloramines are a well-known pulmonary, neurologic and [gastrointestinal] toxin,” Whiting said. “The chloramine byproducts are carcinogenic ... we don’t even know that much about these byproducts, but what we do know is that they are highly toxic.”

“It seems to have been rushed along without a lot of discussion by the public,” Delehanty said after the meeting. “We need to inform people because it’s an issue that will affect every one of us.”

Continue reading "Chloramines in drinking water to be topic of public forum in June" »

April 21, 2012

Soundboard 4-20-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120420-Soundboard

The April 20 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Brian Wheeler, Sean Tubbs & Courtney Beale (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • a new hotel on West Main
  • an update on the city and county comprehensive plans
  • guest Todd Warner on the treatment of minorities in the juvenile justice system
  • an update on the re-development of the Martha Jefferson Hospital site in Charlottesville
  • the new lawsuit regarding the water plan
  • guest Andrew Ferguson a science fiction-loving UVA grad student working to find and preserve writings of an obscure science fiction writer, R.A. Lafferty

Soundboard is produced by Susan Gravatt and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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Chemical engineer briefs ACSA on chloramines

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, April 21, 2012

A chemical engineer with the firm Hazen and Sawyer briefed the Albemarle County Service Authority Thursday on the forthcoming use of chloramines to disinfect treated drinking water. 
 
“Chloramines have been in use since 1917 and we have a very long history of using [them],” said Ben Stanford, director of applied research at Hazen and Sawyer. 
 
The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority uses free chlorine to remove bacteria and viruses from raw water as its primary disinfectant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires water treatment plants to use a secondary disinfectant to ensure no bacteria or viruses re-enter the treated water as it passes through the distribution network. 
 

 

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120418-ACSA-Chloramines

Currently the RWSA also uses free chlorine as its secondary disinfectant, but that chemical will not allow the agency to meet higher standards that will be in effect in October 2014. 

“More utilities across the country have said [they] can no longer do free chlorine as a secondary disinfectant because of the need to meet these increasingly stringent regulations,” said Thomas L. Frederick, Jr., the RWSA’s executive director. 
 

Continue reading "Chemical engineer briefs ACSA on chloramines " »

April 20, 2012

Albemarle plans for water, sewer rate increases

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 20, 2012

The Albemarle County Service Authority’s board of directors had its first look Thursday at a proposed $28.2 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
 
“We’re seeing increases of less than 4 percent to our water and sewer rates, and that’s after two years of no increases,” said Lisa Breeden, the ACSA’s director of finance.
 
Breeden said the average single-family home’s bill will increase by 3.33 percent.
 
The biggest reason for the increase is an increase in wholesale rates charged by the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, which sells treated water and sewer service to the ACSA and the city of Charlottesville.
 
In the current year, the RWSA charges the ACSA a wholesale rate of $3.39 per 1,000 gallons. That will increase to $3.46 per 1,000 gallons in fiscal year 2013.
 
For sewer, the RWSA charges the ACSA $3.35 per 1,000 gallons, an amount that will increase to $3.73 per 1,000 gallons.
 
ACSA staff decided to spend some of its reserves to lower the rate increase for its customers.
 
“[The RWSA’s] capital improvement budget is huge and we’ve had to try to level out that increase to our customers,” Breeden said.

Continue reading "Albemarle plans for water, sewer rate increases" »

April 19, 2012

Court defers decision on water plan lawsuit to May

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 19, 2012

A retired immigration attorney from Madison who opposes the community water supply plan made his first appearance in Albemarle County Circuit Court on Thursday.

Stanton Braverman, who owns property in the city of Charlottesville, is challenging the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s plans to implement the water plan approved in January. He told the court he is acting on his own and not taking any compensation.

20071126-AlbCo-Court
Albemarle County Courthouse (file photo)

After hearing from Braverman, lawyers representing the RWSA, and testimony by RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr., Judge Cheryl V. Higgins deferred a decision and consolidated two separate cases before the courts.

The next hearing has been scheduled for May 18.

“I am way out of my league,” said Braverman in an interview before entering the court. “But I have learned so much in the last four weeks. People are coming to me from all over saying, ‘Hey, Stan, have you thought about suing this, have you thought about suing that.’”

Braverman, 70, joked that he took on the case because he “got tired of mowing the lawn.”

“When I walk in that door, and meet that judge, to me it’s a learning experience,” Braverman explained. “But really, I just got pissed. And anybody who knows me knows that when Stan Braverman gets pissed, he starts swinging.”

Continue reading "Court defers decision on water plan lawsuit to May" »

April 08, 2012

Officials favor continued use of fluoride in drinking water

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, April 9, 2012

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority has been challenged this past week to make the case for multiple chemicals used to treat the local water supply.

Chloramines are the newest chemical expected to be used as a secondary disinfectant in the future. However, fluoride was also in the spotlight following a November campaign by some local residents to ban its use in the water supply.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council both heard arguments last week for and against the practice, which began in the early 1950s. Both bodies say they favor the continued fluoridation of public drinking water.

“[Fluoridation] continues to be recommended today by almost every expert panel: the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many others,” said Dr. Lilian Peake, the Thomas Jefferson Health District director, to the City Council.

“While water fluoridation does not eradicate tooth decay, it has been proven to be a safe and effective way to improve dental health in our community,” said David Coon, president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Dentist Society.

Continue reading "Officials favor continued use of fluoride in drinking water" »

April 06, 2012

Soundboard 4-6-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120406-Soundboard 

The April 6 show features contributors Giles Morris, Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Courtney Beale (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Charlottesville’s budget
  • Chloramines in the water supply
  • the Landmark Hotel’s upcoming bankruptcy auction
  • UVA’s Digital Career Fair
  • the impact of the Virginia Retirement System’s mandate for local government
  • guest Ryan Deramus (Randow Row) on the Bread and Puppet Theater
  • and guest Megan Marlatt on a collaborative urban art project

Soundboard is produced by Susan Gravatt and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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CvilleTomorrow_OffcUse_x750

 
 
Cville-weekly-logo