17 November 2015
More than 75 residents showed up at the Fluvanna Community Center on a damp Tuesday night (Nov. 10) for an often contentious meeting on the James River water project.
Punctuated by bouts of yelling and bursts of applause, the two-hour meeting focused on sharing facts and opinions about the water line contemplated for the southeastern portion of the county.
The James River Water Authority (JRWA), a joint venture between Fluvanna and Louisa Counties, would draw up to 12 million gallons per day of water from the James River and pump it just over a mile to a junction by Rt. 6 in Columbia. From there the Louisa County Water Authority (LCWA) would pipe the water northeast through Fluvanna to Ferncliff, where it would build a treatment center.
The pipeline and its intake location, at Fluvanna’s historic Point of Fork where the James and Rivanna Rivers meet, have come under fire from residents.
The county scheduled this community meeting in advance of the water line’s Dec. 2 public hearings before the Board of Supervisors.
Though the information about the project is “out there” in the public eye, “I can tell you that half of it’s wrong,” County Administrator Steve Nichols said as he opened the meeting. “My hope tonight is that you’ll walk away knowing the whole story.”
Currently about 93 percent of Fluvanna’s revenue comes from homeowners, while only 7 percent springs from business. A healthier ratio would be 70 percent from homeowners and 30 percent from business. But in order to relieve the burden on homeowners, Nichols said, the county needs to make investments in infrastructure, especially by bringing water to Zion Crossroads.
The 75,000 gallons per day of water that supervisors recently voted to bring to Zion Crossroads from the Department of Corrections on Rt. 250 won’t be enough of a supply even for the next 10 years, said Nichols. “A really good viable long-term water source is essential,” he said. “In the next 50 to 100 years, this is what we will fight wars about in the world. There’s study after study after study saying water will be our most precious resource.”
Moving forward with the JRWA project ensures that Fluvanna has a permit to withdraw water from the James River – permission that is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain from the Department of Environmental Quality.
“We have studied things to death, with no results,” said Nichols to the gathered crowd. “How many times are you going to study an issue? Either move forward or stop.”