The Nature Conservancy's Role in the Community Water Supply Plan

  1. 2003, Dec 17: Ridge Schuyler on SFRR sedimentation and the harm to the James River Spinymussel from sedimentation of the SFRR.
    The session was moderated by Ridge Schuyler with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). It was an extremely well attended meeting by both agencies and private/public interest groups, including Stephen Bowler with Albemarle County, City of Charlottesville, Jim Brogdon with ACOE, DEQ, DGIF, F&W, and VDOT to name a few. Dr. Neves with VA-Tech was also significantly involved in the meeting, providing an overview and a presentation on the Spinymussel.
    There was a discussion concerning the sedimentation of SFRR and the importance of possibly performing further studies, as it is detrimental to the Spinymussel, as well as the water supply. This is of great concern to all parties and may suggest that we continue to monitor this situation with the potential for joint funding to address the overall sedimentation problem.
  2. 2004, Apr 1: TNC establishes the Rivanna River Basin Commission to
    "develop a plan to promote the coordination of water management within the Basin to maintan flow conditions to protect instream beneficial uses and public water supplies for human consumption"
  3. 2004, May 24: Minutes of the RWSA meeting. Discussion of TNC involvement in Water supply planning.
  4. 2004, June 26: Minutes of the RWSA meeting: Tom Frederick's first board meeting as director. Discusses involvement of TNC in
  5. 2005, January 16: Letter from TNC to RWSA regarding collaboration on water supply planning
    "We appreciate your willingness to work with The Nature Conservancy as RWSA develops its plan for meeting the future water supply needs of our community."
    "In 2000, The Nature Conservancy ..... identified the Rivanna River as one of the South Atlantic Basin's most important areas for conservation action." "Sedimentation, habitat fragmentation, and changes in natural river flow patterns emerged as principal issues to be addressed as our community develops strategies for protecting and restoring ecosystem health."

  6. 2005, January 24: memo from Frederick to RWSA Board:
    "However, applying the flow targets at all four locations consistently to the climate data from two years of severe droughts... could require significant additional storage facilities at significant cost, to avoid depleting the public water supply."
  7. 2005, Mar 28: Minutes of RWSA meeting refer to TNC's involvement
    "The Rivanna River system was identified as being an area of considerable interest to TNC from a conservation statement."
    "Mr Gaffney inquired if TNC would be assisting RWSA with its Community Water Supply Plan process. Mr. Richter replied in the affirmative but added that it was TNC's first and foremost interst to maintain at the highest level possible the health of the river and its ecosystem and all the recreational benefits that the community enjoys."
  8. 2005: June 30: TNC Announces $1 Million Donation from Nestle Waters, the world’s largest distributor of bottled water, to finance two pilot projects – one on the Rivanna River in the Charlottesville area and the other on Caddo Lake in
    Texas. Nestle is known around the world for exploiting for profit.
  9. 2008, April 30: TNC letter to members, written by Ridge Schuyler
    "We've worked so hard in this community because the Conservancy in 2001 identified the Rivanna as one of the Piedmont's finest freshwater systems. This followed careful analysis of watersheds throughout the southeastern United States and led us to target the Rivanna watershed as a conservation priority." (pg 1)
    "Because dredging the South Fork did not satsify the water supply needs, ... the Conservancy worked to refine the fouth option; expanding the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. The plan developed by the Conservancy acheives the three goals,...." (pg 1)
    It's an experiment: On pg 2, steps are outlined. Step 5 calls for: "Implementing the flow recommendations on a trial basis to test hypothesis and reduce uncertanties in the flow recommendations."
  10. 2007, Jan 5: RWSA summary of minumum in stream flow evalutions.
    "Although the TNC interests are beyond the established RWSA project purpose of expanding the water supply safe yield to meet projected demands, RWSA has maintained a cooperative dialogue with TNC for nearly two years in an attempt to both achieve the primary project purpose and any pracical and associated environmental benefits."
  11. 2007, May 21: Memo from T Frederick citing TNC role in plan development
    "As the Board and public are aware, the RWSA staff has been in active discussions with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) since the summer of 2004 to develop a new program for releases of water from the Sugar Hollow and South Fork Reservoirs."
    "Throughout our discussions, we have been trying to manage two separate objectives which can compete for the same limited water supply during drought periods. The first objective, clearly stated by an overwhelming majority of interested citizens and local boards, is that the Urban Water System’s future water supply remains “within our own watershed area”. The second objective is to provide stream flows as close to natural conditions as is possible without undue risk of interrupting the public water supply. In order to optimize both of these objectives, RWSA and TNC have traveled a long journey looking for a solution that provides a flow to the streams that mimics close to natural conditions during dry weather periods, and replenish this storage by “shaving” the peaks from the spikes in natural stream flow during wet weather events. This principle is reflected in detail in Brian Richter’s book, Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature."
    (Egos are involved:)
    "First, I’d like to express sincere gratitude to TNC and their organization for all of the assistance and ideas they have provided throughout this process. This process has been both educational and fun, and has resulted in a new and innovative procedure that we believe may rewrite “the book” on how releases from reservoirs throughout Virginia and the nation are regulated in the future."
    (The permit requirements did not come from DEQ:)
    "With respect to Sugar Hollow and South Fork, recognizing that RWSA and TNC were attempting to conclude voluntary negotiations, DEQ suspended its development of permit conditions and asked that RWSA and TNC complete their discussions and RWSA make a proposal for DEQ review."

    (Cost will be a "shock to the Urban Water Rate:)
    " 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."
    (Note: The cost of the new RMR dam and requisite improvements is now estimated at more than 89 million and the total cost at least 200 million)

  12. 2007, Sep 13: TNC wants to create a NATIONAL model: RWSA public meeting: September 13, 2007: Costs Concept Development – Ragged Mountain Reservoir Expansion
    "It has been a collaborative approach with The Nature Conservancy who has also invested tremendous resources on this project. From TNC's perspective, he (Frederick) felt it was it was an attempt to develop a new way to provide stream flows associated with dams and water supplies that could be used throughout the country."
  13. 2009, Jan 27: At a SFRR task force meeting, Ridge Schuyler of TNC aggressively stops any discussion of dredging the SFRR for water capacity. (podcast)
    "If you suggest that we should.. re-examine the feasibility of restoring the water capacity specifically as an aim, that is outside the purview of this committee."
  14. THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG: This chart shows how the debt to finance the 142 million dollar water supply plan will escalate over time. Low rate increases at the beginning will balloon as the more expensive parts of the plan are implemented. CSWP added the "You are Here" to orient the viewer. (Note, the pricetag for the plan has since risen dramatically)

  15. TNC Streamflow Protection & Restoration Strategy
    "This multi-site strategy builds on the ground-breaking work done by TNC’s former national Freshwater Initiative on characterizing flow regimes and developing environmentally protective flow prescriptions. It also takes advantage of the fact that nine of fourteen states in our region are working on developing state streamflow management programs or policies. Finally, it addresses a threat that is affecting one of the most important key ecological attributes of our freshwater portfolio sites across the region."

    "The strategy focuses on four key components: 1) directly engaging state agencies in developing state streamflow policies and programs; 2) undertaking key site-specific flow management projects that protect portfolio freshwater systems and/or serve as key demonstration projects for ecological flow management principals; 3) developing new tools to foster the implementation of ecologically based water management; and 4) training and building the capacity of TNC staff and partners across the region on ecological water management principals and techniques."

    "By 2011, ensure water management and dam operations, including the Army of Corps of Engineers, hydropower, and water supply systems, on portfolio rivers are operated in a manner that is protective of TNC conservation targets."
  16. 2004: Albemarle County Biodiversity Report: RMNA as a biodiversity important site; website with full report

  17. The Nature Conservancy's PR materials:
    Piedmont Program
    Rivanna River and Rivanna River Basin Commission