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Dredging the South Fork: Common Myths


The Truth about Dredging: Be sure to read the series of articles by The Hook about the facts and myths of dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

  • Dredging Myth:
  • Fill from the Reservoir can't be used for the CHO airport runway expansion

    FALSE Again from The Hook: “Dredging contractors say that airports routinely use dredged fill for new runways. New York’s JFK is reportedly all fill."
    "About a decade ago, in an effort that won environmental awards, public and private sector officials took dredged sentiments from the Delaware River to build a new runway at Philadelphia International Airport. In doing so, the Philadelphia airport paid a fraction of what it was expecting to and the Corps saved the expense of moving that material. In all, taxpayers saved $15 million."

  • Dredging Myth:
  • The dredged sediment is too toxic to reuse.

    FALSE. As reported in a technical memorandum on dredging the SFRR, samples taken of the sediment in the SFRR indicated that it was approximately 50% sand and 50% clay/silt. It goes on to report that, "The chemical analyses indicate that the material sampled in this location is likely to be non-hazardous in nature and might be reused or disposed of as appropriate."

  • Dredging Myth:
    Dredging alone does not supply enough water for the 50 yr water plan
  • FALSE. Today we have plenty of stored water - nearly 2,000 MG.. Dredging the SFRR would not only stop the loss of capacity but could recover an additional 550 MG. Recovering capacity at SHR (lost in a landslide in 1995) would add another 70 MG. Combine that with the emergency use of water sources already linked to the water treatment systems, such as Beaver Creek, Lake Albemarle, and Chris Greene as back up systems in the case of extreme drought would bring us above and beyond the safe yield numbers the current plan provides.

  • Dredging Myth:
    The Plan only costs $37 million. Can dredging compare?
  • FALSE. The current plan costs 142 MILLION DOLLARS. Recently RWSA officials have taken to using the figure
    37 million, but that price will only build the new 112 foot dam at RMNA. Once built, that reservoir cannot fill itself without a
    60 MILLION DOLLAR pipeline and series of pumps and new pre-treatment facility. AND another 45 MILLION will be needed to finish the project.

    The consultants, who have since won the bid to design the new dam, estimated that dredging would cost 225 MILLION. The Hook quotes multiple dredging experts who dispute that such an operation would be more like 20-50 million. One Virginia company was quoted as saying, "I told them three or four years ago that I'd do it for that [$21 million]. "Then they said they weren't interested in dredging, so that was a dead issue."

  • Dredging Myth:
    A study by a dredging company may create a conflict of interest
  • FALSE. Tom Frederick said this at the ASAP debate in late February. (Podcast: "Water Supply Hotly Debated") The consultants who were paid millions to come up with the current plan to build a new dam and pipeline, and who won the bid to design the new dam are in fact in the business of dam and pipeline building. They are the ones who came up with the figure of 225 million to dredge, instead recommending.... a dam and pipeline.

    And they are worried that a dredging expert would have a conflict of interest in giving a quote to dredge the SFRR?

BACK TO COMMON MYTHS