A Plan to Increase Charlottesville's Water Supply

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority has a plan to increase our community's water supply. It should help keep us out of drought warnings in the future. But funding the project could mean a big bump in your water rates.

They're expanding the Ragged Mountain Dam.

The RWSA expects the cost of the Ragged Mountain Dam project to be around $37 million. The board agrees this dam must be built to meet the need of a growing community.

Our area remains in a drought warning. That's the second stage of a three step plan of action.

RWSA Director Tom Frederick says, "There is a clear need for additional water storage to allow us to provide reliable service without interruptions and without frequent drought stages."

On short notice, you can ask the public to conserve water in a drought, but a long term solution means expanding the supply.

"One of the things that can contribute to when we have to go through drought stages as we are in right now is the amount of storage we have in our system," Frederick says.

The Ragged Mountain Dam is the largest drinking water supply reservoir in the Charlottesville Albemarle region. It's in a remote area west of the city. But a larger supply requires a bigger storage area.

The RWSA has plans to build a bigger dam and tear down the old one.

"To do those objectives require greater infrastructure, there's no way to do it without it and this new dam will have one and a half billion...gallons of additional storage to the system," Frederick says.

The new dam is also a matter of public safety. It was built 100 years ago, and it does not meet safety regulations that are promoted today.

The board hopes to have the project finished in 2011.

Right now, the new dam will be funded through bonds and increased water rates, but the RWSA is holding a public meeting in September to discuss funding.

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