City Council is on the verge of making some major decisions regarding our City-owned reservoirs and our region’s long-term water supply plan.
Many hard questions have been asked about that plan, and we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies to examine our alternatives. Let’s take a quick look at what we now know.
First, we now know that we don’t need to build a new dam at Ragged Mountain. The existing dam is in excellent shape (save for an inadequate spillway) and renovating/expanding that dam will save us millions of dollars vs. building a massive new dam.
Second, we now know that dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir would be much cheaper and will produce more storage capacity than we once thought.
Third, we now know that the original projection of water demand significantly overstated how much water we’d be using today, and very likely overstated how much water we’d be using 50 years from now. We also now know that projecting long-term demand for water is an inexact science at best. Thanks to advances in water conservation and efficiency, we do know we’re getting much smarter about the way we use water.
Given what we now know, I propose we immediately take the following steps:
Through these two steps, we are projected to meet all of our water needs for at least 40 years and save tens of millions of dollars over the current plan. This approach will also give us the ability to assess actual long-term trends in water consumption and give us the nimbleness to readily add capacity if we need it – instead of incurring a huge amount of debt now for capacity we don’t know we’ll need.