Water authority to explore Rassawek alternative

By Heather Michon

The James River Water Authority (JRWA) voted unanimously at a recent meeting to authorize a field study of a potential alternative location for its controversial water pumping station.

The study will focus on what the Monacan Indian Nation has called the Forsyth Alternative, a parcel of land about two miles upstream from the current site. The current site is believed to contain the archaeological remains of the tribe’s historic capital of Rassawek.

The Forsyth Alternative was proposed by the tribe in the spring. JRWA consultants have expressed doubt that it would be technically or financially feasible to relocate the pumping facility, which needs to connect with a pipeline leading to a water treatment plant near Ferncliff in Louisa County. Treated water would then be carried into the Zion Crossroads area.

Opposition to the Rassawek site has been growing for the last two years, culminating this summer with the submission of more than 12,000 public comments from individuals and organizations to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking the government to withhold critical permits and save the site. In late September, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added Rassawek to its annual list of “most endangered” cultural sites.

JRWA asked the Army Corps of Engineers for a temporary halt in the permitting process in  August.

The archaeological study of the Forsyth Alternative will cost around $150,000 and take 1-3 month to complete. After the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) disqualified the previous archaeologist for not having the proper credentials, the authority retained GAI Consultants to oversee cultural resource issues. GAI is likely to contract Gray & Pape Heritage Management, the firm recommended by the Monacan Nation, to conduct fieldwork.






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