Monday, May 5, 2008

Water plans

As the population here grows and knowing that droughts will occur again like that in 2002, the City and County are awaiting approval of a plan to expand the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. This decision was vetted through numerous public meetings in which four feasible options were presented.

1. Dredge the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir
2. Build a pipeline to the James River.
3. Build a four-foot crest to raise the height of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.
4. Expand the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

A recent Nature Conservancy letter, dated April 30, 2008, stated that organization’s reasons for support of Option #4. “Because dredging the South Fork did not satisfy the water supply needs, the James River pipeline imported water from outside the watershed, and expanding the South Fork threatened the habitat of an endangered species, the Conservancy worked to refine the fourth option.” #1 lost because dredging would need to continue indefinitely. #2 went outside the watershed – a no-no. #4 would allow for the restoration of “natural flows…to the Moorman’s River,” which the Conservancy is a bag fan of. has emerged as a vocal proponent of #1, despite the fact #4 is almost a done deal. According to the website, the Sierra Club has thrown its weight into their corner. The Hook seems to run an article every other week in support of dredging and has featured the group behind the website. Since this was the only side I had read I was in support of dredging but the Conservancy letter seems a little more grounded. They also have bought some land abutting the Reservoir that will continue to serve as forest habitat to migrating water birds. The biggest red flag for expanding the reservoir is its proposed expansion beneath I-64. This doesn’t seem like a good idea.

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