Water issues

First, County Administrator Steve Nichols presented the proposed agreement to the Board.  If approved, the agreement would empower the James River Water Authority (JRWA) to construct a pipeline for the benefit of Fluvanna and Louisa Counties.  Formed in 2009, the JRWA consists of three members from Fluvanna and three members from Louisa.  It is the JRWA, not Fluvanna or Louisa, that holds the withdrawal permit from the James River.  Under this proposal, the permit’s intake location would need to move from Bremo Bluff to Columbia.

At a cost of about $3.5 million, half of which would come from Fluvanna, the JRWA would construct an intake facility at the James River by Columbia and run a pipeline, ending in a junction, roughly to Rt. 6.  The intake facility and pipeline would have a capacity of 3 million gallons and would be jointly owned by Fluvanna and Louisa.  At the junction, Louisa would construct its own pipeline at its own expense, which would run north-northeast through Fluvanna to Louisa.

Under the agreement, Fluvanna would have options for its future water needs.  Fluvanna could construct its own pipeline at the junction, moving raw water through the county.  Fluvanna could also pay to tap into Louisa’s water line within Fluvanna County.

After the presentation, the discussion began, first centering on the pipeline’s immediate benefits to Fluvanna.  Supervisors seemed to agree that this proposal would not alleviate the county’s water woes in the near future, though the ability to run an eventual line was appreciated by some.  The proposal also has the benefit of putting the withdrawal permit to use before it expires.  According to Nichols, “it’s hard to imagine a scenario” in which an expired permit would be reissued.

Taking proactive advantage of a partnership with Louisa also comes with an advantage, Nichols explained, because it is quite possible that Louisa could run a pipeline through Fluvanna even without Fluvanna’s consent.  Precedent exists in Virginia, he said, for counties without access to their own water to obtain it from sources in nearby and sometimes unwilling counties.

Many concerns about the proposed agreement existed as well.  Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch took exception to the idea of Louisa running a pipeline “through our land” to benefit Louisa’s economic development.  The proposed pipeline would run through 76 parcels of land in Fluvanna, and some Fluvanna citizens are worried about granting Louisa eminent domain over Fluvanna properties. Read the rest of the story in the upcoming issue of the Fluvanna Review.

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