Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Water Supply Revisited . . . Again

Today, those of us supporting the Charlottesville. Water Supply Plan showed up in Richmond to testify before the Virginia State Water Control Board in favor of a permit modification to increase the capacity of the Ragged Mountain Dam, built in 1885 to serve the water supply needs of Charlottesville and now the focus of a contentious debate over water supply.

Even though proponents and opponents were present to make their cases, the Water Board voted 6-0 to grant the permit modification.  Proponents of the supply plan and permit included Sally Thomas, former Chair of Albemarle Supervisors  representing a coalition of environmental organizations; Jason Halbert, the foremost proponent of removing dams in Virginia; Bill Kittrell of the Nature Conservancy,  and Liz Palmer, a citizen who also serves on the Albemarle Service Authority, and myself, a former mayor and environmental attorney who specialized in water issues.

Opponents were those who say our real need can be supplied by dredging the South Fork and these include a newly elected member of city council, Dede Smith, who believes her election was due to people's support of her water position. 

Proponents pointed out why the dredging alternative will not serve the real water needs; opponents criticized the data, the lack of stream monitoring gauges ("no funding" says DEQ), the consultants' reports and the cost estimates but offer no real solutions except to assert -- in the face of the studies and other evidence -- that dredging will resolve the water supply issue.

We can go over the numbers forever, but the common sense question is:  Will the South Fork, if dredged back to its 1966 level, be able to supply enough water for the Charlottesville-Albemarle urban area of 2020, 2030 and beyond?  If you look at the growth of the region since 1966 to the present, even with conservation measures in place, this supply will not suffice.

Hopefully, as soon as the cost agreements between city and county are approved and a final pending permit from the Corps of Engineers is issued, we can move on to rebuild the dam, secure our water supply and think about other important issues.

For me, even though I loved working as an advocate, I do not like to spend my retirement years doing this kind of work.  I had to miss a fabulous class on women's short stories today to go to Richmond to advocate.  I decided to make this final push, and I'm glad I did.  One Water Board member told me our support  for the project made a real difference in his thinking about it. We do have credibility and today was the day to put it on the line.

Now back to women's short stories, my own and others . . .

Sphere: Related Content