RMNA

Will the SFRR to RMR Pipeline EVER be built?

2004: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) becomes involved with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority's future water planning.

JANUARY 2005:
A RWSA public meeting was held to discuss expanding the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, one of the 4 options on the short list.
Ragged Mountain Reservoir was to be raised 45 feet and filled via the Moormans River and a rehabilitated pump station on the Mechums River.

APRIL 2005:
Opposition to this plan from local environmental groups as well as the "Friends of the Moormans" focused on the impact to the Moormans River.
In April 2005, in a private meeting between RWSA and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) the issue of building a pipeline between Ragged Mountain Reservoir and the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir was discussed. TNC agreed to contact several local organizations who had previously stated concerns about the Ragged Mountain alternative as a way of determining if by proposing the source of the new pipeline as South Fork, those earlier concerns would be remedied. (see page 3)

JUNE 2005:
Contempt for local oppostion by environmentalists can be seen in this email from Mike Gaffney to RWSA on June 6, 2005

"I didn't think it would be too difficult to get the environmental community to sign on to our projected proposal to the regulators of June 22nd. It looks like they will not only back what we end up with, but will probably claim that they came up with the solution. I'm very encouraged with our direction and the posturing of all parties."

ENCARATA DICTIONARY: Definition of posturing (n)
exaggerated behavior: behavior that is exaggerated or affected, especially as an attempt to impress or deceive others

OCTOBER 2005:
A RWSA public meeting (8th of 9 public meetings) was held to announce the NEW concept of building a pipeline between SFRR and the RMR as part of expanding RMR. The plan also called to decommission the Sugar Hollow pipeline cutting off access to the water reserves in the Sugar Hollow Reservoir.

JUNE 2006:
City Council and Board of Supervisors approved a project to expand the Ragged Mt Reservoir by phasing in the construction of the dam and building the new SFRR pipeline concurrently. See permit support document

MAY 2007:
In a memo from Frederick to RWSA Board on May 21, 2007, it was clear this plan was not financially possible.:

As RWSA staff has explored financing the improvements under the Community Water Supply Plan, it has become clear to staff that the new Ragged Mountain Dam ($37 million) and the new South Fork pipeline ($52 million) cannot be built simultaneously without a very large shock to the Urban Water Rate as well as significant uncertainty in how such large bonds for an organization our size might be rated by the bond market. The total cost of both of these two projects ($89 million) represents two-thirds of the cost ($130 million) of the entire 50-year plan, which would also be an enormous “front-ending” of costs by existing water users.

SEPTEMBER 2007:
A
RWSA public meeting was held to disclose the cost of the "preferred alternative" to be 143 million dollars, of which 127 million was needed for the new RMR dam, the SFRR pipeline and infrastructure required for that, and upgrading the Observatory treatment plant to handle increased volume. At this meeting it was recommended that the dam be built all at once in a first phase, followed in year 2020 with the construction of the pipeline. The impact to the rate payer (estimated debt service) was presented in this graph.

JANUARY 8, 2008:
Opposition to delaying the pipeline from the "Friends of the Moormans" led to this email from Tom Frederick:

The "Friends of ... " don't like hearing this, but we will restore 80% of the total benefits of the 50-Year Plan to the Moormans River simply by building a new full-height Ragged Mountain Dam. I can't blame John as a Moormans advocate who doesn't pay the sewer rates for wanting the other 20% now, but for those who are paying, getting 80% of the benefit for $37 Million and having to pay $56 Million for the remaining 20% benefit is an important argument. I think John understands our argument even if he wants more, but Bob Gilgas and a few others are spreading misinformation that we will further degrade the Moormans by not building the pipeline now.

JAN-JUNE 2008:
DEQ and later the USCOE issued permits to build a new concrete dam and SFRR-RMR pipeline. Tiered stream release requirements reflected the new phasing scenario whereby a full height dam was built first, followed at some later date by a new SFRR-RMR pipeline.

FALL 2008:
The cost of the new concrete dam skyrocketed.
Gannett Fleming was fired. Schnabel Engineering was hired to design a more cost efficient concrete dam. Instead they advised that the design be changed to an earthen dam. The implications included a much larger footprint, higher elevation and without the (feasible) option of phasing.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008:
According to news reports, at the September 22, 2008 RWSA meeting , Tom Frederick reports that the plan to use the route of the unbuilt Western bypass for the new pipeline may not be available anymore:

Theres a lot of questions in this community about whether a roadway will ever get built in that corridor, and trying to use that corridor may not be the right answer. In fact, we tend to think its not the right answer if a roadway will never get built.

There is no design work for the pipeline right now, Frederick told his board. Im certainly much more focused on getting the dam.

AUGUST 2009:
At the August RWSA Board meeting, in response to public comment Tom Frederick explains how the pipeline is not necessary for the expanded RMR to work:

"There is a suggestion here that the RMR won’t work without a new pipeline. That depends on demand. We published this several times that there was studies done while we were preparing the permit support documents to enable us to make some recommendations to the community on phasing the water supply plan.

We actually used an interim target of 2020 demand from  Gannett Fleming’s demand analysis and ran the model for  those conditions and showed the SH pipeline still worked under those conditions….
It is true that at 18.7 mgd a new pipeline would be needed." 
Note: According to the Gannett Fleming Demand Analysis referred to above, the estimated demand in 2020 was approximately 14 mgd. Therefore the trigger to build a larger pipeline is somewhere between 14 and 18.7 mgd.

JANUARY 18, 2011:
Joint meeting between BOS and City Council : Frederick refers to building the pipeline in 20-50 years.
Frederick refers to the pipeline as "not directly related to the reservoir itself".
"Some of it is at the end of the 50 years, others might be in 20 to 30 years, basically whenever it is needed." Listen for yourself.

JANUARY 20, 2011:
At the January ASCA meeting, a dispute arises about when the SFRR-RMR pipeline will be built. Tom Frederick and Liz Palmer disagree. Frederick:

" In 2007, Rivanna held a public meeting. and threw out as a 'straw' the idea of building a pipeline by around 2020....
..... I've not heard that any board has made any decision or taken any position on that since then. It was a 'straw' idea... but that was something raised 3 years ago. I don't think anyone's made a decision on it."
"The pipeline itself has no aquatic impacts... I'm not sure there is any driving concern we have to build it within the permit period."

JANUARY 25, 2011:
RWSA meeting 2011: Frederick talks about how to defer the construction of the SH pipeline, by building more storage at RMR.

JANUARY 25, 2011:
Kristen Szakos speaks about deferring the pipeline on the Coy Barefoot Show. When asked about the role of dredging the SFRR, Szakos says,

"If we're looking at this from.. especially a financial perspective, the most expensive part of this plan is the pipeline
.. the pipeline is something that has to be put into place when the need is for more capacity."
"It makes it important to put off the most expensive part of the plan which is the pipeline."

AUGUST 27, 2011:
DEQ releases draft permit modification for public scrutiny
Under the permit, the Sugar Hollow pipeline would be retired after the dam is fully expanded and the new pipeline is built. Frederick said there is no firm date for construction of the new pipeline.

OCTOBER 25, 2011:
RWSA BOARD MEETING: Tom Frederick backs off pipeline priority, blames Board

"With respect to the pipeline I’ll say this. Based on more recent discussion, first of all, this board is not given the staff any direction as to when you want to build the pipeline. It would be very challenging, if not possible really, to do a financial analysis without a decision on what to base, at least what assumptions to base it on which I think is a decision that the board needs to make. In your prioritization of projects, more recently you have moved dredging up which suggests to me from a financial perspective that you’re not considering the pipeline as an important priority perhaps as it was considered a few years ago, that is just an assumption on my part because you are moving other projects ahead of it."

THE BIG QUESTION:
Is the RWSA intending to implement the "original" plan to build a full height dam and fill it, in perpetuity, from the Moormans and Mechums?