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September 09, 2008

Reservoir Task Force discusses rowing, aquatic plants, sediment, and public input

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20080908-SFRR-TF1 The South Fork Reservoir Stewardship Task Force held its third meeting on September 8, 2008 in the Albemarle County Office Building.  A dozen task force members and about twenty citizen observers heard the continuing discussion of issues related to the use and maintenance of the reservoir, a key component of the community water supply, to guide its stewardship over the next fifty years.

In the course of the two-hour meeting, the task force shared reflections of their recent reservoir tours, they reviewed answers to questions raised at their first meeting, they took public comment on the public input process, and they learned they would all be held to Virginia’s open government laws.  Those laws determine how they advertise their meetings, prohibit gatherings of three or more members to discuss public business (without advertising that in advance as a public meeting) and require that their e-mail related to the work of the task force be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

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John Martin represents the Rivanna River Basin Commission on the Task Force.  He is also a member of Friends of the Moormans River and is an appointed member of the Albemarle County Service Authority Board.  Martin began his comments reflecting on his recent tour of the reservoir by suggesting the University of Virginia could help pay for dredging in the event it is determined to only be needed to support the athletic facility for the rowing teams.

“To the extent that some of those sand bars need to be removed, and that is the sole reason for expenditure of funds for dredging, that the University should think about picking up the tab for maintaining their sports venue,” said Martin.  “There may be other reasons for dredging…and perhaps eventually we could talk about some sort of a cost share.”

Mark Fletcher, Associate Director of Athletics for the University of Virginia, said sedimentation of the reservoir was a long term-problem from lack of maintenance and that other rowers use the reservoir, both of which would need to be factored into a cost sharing arrangement.  Sally Thomas reported that she has asked the Planning and Coordinating Council (PACC) of the City, County and University to consider recreational uses of the reservoir on the agenda of their next meeting scheduled for November 20, 2008.

This meeting was largely devoted to a discussion of previously identified questions from the task force and to the future public input process.  The timeline below will allow citizens to find and listen to the corresponding parts of the meeting.  Meeting agendas and reference materials will be available on the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority website.

The next meeting of the task force will be on Monday, September, 29, 2008 and will feature remarks by Stephen Bowler, former Watershed Manager for the County of Albemarle.

Brian Wheeler


  • 0:01:00 – Call to Order by Task Force Chair Sally Thomas
  • 0:03:30 – Impressions form Reservoir Tour
  • 0:03:46 – Comments by Mark Fletcher, Associate Director of Athletics for the University of Virginia who reports on Coach Kevin Sauer’s feedback on an ideal rowing facility, a return to the ability to row three miles up the reservoir and two miles down towards the dam with a minimum depth of four feet.
  • 0:04:48 – Comments by Rich Collins, Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan 
  • 0:05:05 – Comments by John Martin, Rivanna River Basin Commission.  Martin suggests UVA could contribute to dredging costs if sediment needs to be removed only for rowing.
  • 0:06:54 – Fletcher responds to Martin’s comments.
  • 0:08:12 – Comments by Wren Olivier, Sierra Club
  • 20080908-SFRR-TF2 0:09:33 – Comments by Ridge Schuyler, The Nature Conservancy
  • 0:21:05 – Schuyler comments on methods to reduce sedimentation coming into South Fork Rivanna Reservoir
  • 0:23:50 – Additional observations from John Martin
  • 0:25:30 – Comments by Holly Edwards, Charlottesville City Council
  • 0:29:36 – Additional observations from Rich Collins
  • 0:31:33 – Comments by Liz Palmer, Albemarle County Service Authority Board
  • 0:33:07 – Comments by Tom Jones, citizen representative
  • 0:38:00 – Sally Thomas opens discussion of questions and answers compiled by RWSA staff in response to issues raised at first task force meeting.
  • 0:38:48 – Question #1 – What type of aquatic weed is growing in the shallows within the reservoir? 
  • 1:00:35 – Thomas summarizes conversation on Hydrilla growing in the reservoir.
  • 1:03:26 – Question #2 – How many fisherman use the reservoir?
  • 1:04:40 – Question #3 – Appropriate strategies for keeping sediment out of the reservoir?
  • 1:10:00 – Comments by Greg Harper, Albemarle County Water Resources Manager, who describes challenge of dealing with sedimentation from watershed.
  • 1:16:03 – Question #4 – Are forebays [to capture sediment] feasible?
  • 1:16:24 – Question #5 – What would the reservoir look like if we do nothing?
  • 1:16:36 – Question #6 – What are the elements of a dredging study?
  • 1:22:00 – Karen Joyner, Ivy Creek Foundation, asks about Question #10 – Is more information required on rowing needs?
  • 1:28:27 – Discussion of meeting schedule for task force.  Consensus to have them on second and fourth Mondays at 6PM pending confirmation that Dede Smith can attend on Mondays.  However, next meeting will be September 29, 2008 and will not have a major public hearing component.
  • 1:31:20 – Sally Thomas invites Lee Catlin, Albemarle County Community Relations Manager, to provide feedback to task force on possible approaches to public input process.
  • 1:44:20 – Sally Thomas opens the floor for comments from the public about the public input process.
  • 1:53:48 – Catlin summarizes potential communications and public input ideas.
  • 2:05:05 – Thomas and Catlin inform task force that they will all be held to Virginia’s open government laws when they conduct their business since they are an entity convened by public bodies.


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