Sunday, March 16, 2008

"The emperor has no water" Hoax

Charlottesville, Va.—When our reservoirs are full (such as now), how much water do we have?

2 billion gallons or 2,029 MG (million gallons).

Okay. Wait a minute. How much is that? If it stops raining, when do the reservoirs go dry? Seems like an obvious question. But, if you’ve read the newspapers for the past 6 years, nobody knows how much water we have in terms how long it will last.

Think of the water from your faucet as being pumped to you by an engine. The motor has 3 gasoline tanks (reservoirs). When all 3 tanks are full, how long until water faucet dries up? It depends on the gas mileage (daily demand).

The water engine is so big and complex that the city and county created a company and hired a crew of mechanics to keep the water flowing. The Rivanna Authority’s CEO and Board of Directors advise the city and county to replace one tank with a larger tank so water can flow longer before needing to be recharged. The community asks RWSA how much water will the larger tank bring. But the CEO says it depends on capacity and gas mileage. It depends on low demand such as winter and high demand such as summer.

“This whole debate is based on the premise that the demand on the urban water system will double from today's average daily flow of 9.7 million gallons to the Authority's projected demand of 19.29 million gallons per day (MGD) in 2055” (“COVER- Trickling away: A dam develops amid missed chances” by editor by HAWES SPENCER, published March 13, 2008, The Hook)

At average daily demand today, we have 209 Days = 2,029 MG / 9.7 MGD. When reservoirs are full, we have 7 months of water. 6.97 months = 209.1 Days / 30 days-per-month.

Is that enough water? Is 7 months enough drought insurance? When is the last time it didn’t rain for 7 months? Never!

This Hook story doesn’t say how much water we have, not in gallons or days of supply. Without the volume, you can’t use the “safe daily yield” figures and average daily demand given in the article to calculate how much water we have. Last week’s article (“COVER- Reservoir dogged: A $142 million boondoggle?” LISA PROVENCE, published February 28, 2008, The Hook) gave the total volume for 4 reservoirs but no daily demand figures. This week’s article says 3 reservoirs serve the city and county with Beaver Dam dedicated to Crozet.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could go to the RWSA website ( and get the official statistics and metrics. If the information is there, it’s buried in some report. So I’m using data that trickles out from the press or meetings I attend. The expanded Ragged Mountain would bring 160 Days = 3,105 MG / 19.29 MGD, or about 5 months of water.

In 1977, after 10 months of record drought, there were 226 days or 7.5 months of supply.

“The rain Friday, [RWSA operations director Eugene] Potter said, will probably not make a difference, since it was so light it soaked into the ground rather than running off into the reservoirs. The watersheds of the Sugar Hollow and Ragged Mountain lakes are so small that only heavy and prolonged rains raise their levels, he said.

“We’re starting to get disturbed,” Potter said Friday. “When we get to 90 days storage, we’re recommending voluntary conservation” be instituted, he said.

There are about 136 days water supply in the South Rivanna reservoir but the other two are very likely below the 90-day mark, the operations chief said, though calculating how many days of storage remains is difficult since that figure depends on what rate the water is consumed, a rate that varies” (“Rainfall Short, Water Saving Plan Proposed” by Peter Bacque of The Progress Staff, September 10, 1977, The Daily Progress).

Here’s the formula:

Change in Volume = Runoff + UndergroundFlow — Consumption — DischargeDownstream — Evaporation — Sedimentation

If no rain, Runoff = 0. Evaporation and Sedimentation is small, close to zero in the short term. Consumption and Discharge are measured and predictable. Underground flow unexpectedly filled the S. Rivanna in late 2001 after 30 days with no rain. On Dec. 3, 2001 WINA news quoted the Albemarle Service Authority director Bill Brent, who theorized trees becoming dormant for winter allowed more underground flow. But it was the third dry autumn in a row.

Eugene Potter retired as RWSA operations director following the drought of 2002. Today, adjusted for average daily water demand, the South Rivanna has 119 days and the other two reservoirs have…you guessed it…90 days. In 2002 RWSA made numerous claims recorded in many media that 2002 was the worst drought on record, second only to the 1930 drought.

“Charlottesville-Albemarle’s summer drought, already the most severe on record by a “substantial margin,” “may very well continue into the winter,” according to the Office of the State Climatologist.

Acting State Climatologist Bruce P. Hayden Monday urged the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to put into effect at once plans to conserve water in the agency’s city-county service area because the prospects for getting sufficient quantities of vitally needed rain during the critical fall and winter rainy season are “very, very bleak.” […]

Hayden’s memorandum to the water agency—and a letter informing the governor’s office of the “gravity of the current drought and the unusually poor prospect for significant rain storms” —confirms what local officials had not previously had the facts to support.

In the 80-odd years that rainfall records have been kept at the University’s McCormick Observatory, 1976-77 ranks as the driest by far, Hayden said.

The last year’s rainfall is almost exactly half of normal annual precipitation, the records show, and is substantially lower than the worst previous drought in 1929-30.

Between November of 1976 and August this year, Charlottesville-Albemarle received 18.65 inches of rain, 50.8 per cent of the 36.71 inches normal for the region.

In the 1929-30 drought, the area got 23.37 inches during the same months. […]

The State Climatologist’s Office was established this summer after a four year lapse in its existence. Hayden is an associate professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia (Severe Record Drought Expected to Continue” by Peter Bacque, Oct. 4, 1977, The Daily Progress).

Three days later, the city and county enacted mandatory restrictions. A month after that, the drought was over, reservoirs were full. Subsequently, the Rivanna Authority acquired 1,300 acres in 1983 near Free Union for Buck Mountain Reservoir before being denied a dam permit. In 2006 the agency unveiled a plan to use Buck Mountain land as replacement wetlands in the Ragged Mountain mitigation plan for expansion.

The Water Shortage Hoax

The most recent hoax began in 2001. In 2000 executive director Arthur Petrini had a certain level of supply to trigger mandatory restrictions. That was 60%. Today that would be 4 months of supply remaining. A 70% threshold or 5 months of supply triggered the 2002 restrictions.

In August 2007 RWSA’s newest (since 2004) executive director Tom Fredrick called for mandatory conservation which led to the third local water restrictions in the agency’s history. But he offered no objective trigger. He didn’t say how many days of water we had on hand. Instead Frederick was melodramatic as if a catastrophe were about to happen.

During the 6 months of restrictions, several people called radio shows and wrote letters to newspapers stating that people were wasting water. But no citation was issued this time, unlike the previous restrictions of 2002. That’s because everyone knew there was no drought, everyone except the press.

How many times can you cry wolf before people don’t care if the wolf eats you? The 2007 drought was the most obvious hoax yet.

RWSA has gone through cycles of good and bad leadership. In 2001 that leadership took a turn for the worse. The new interim executive director Cole Hendrix was city manager when the agency was born in 1972. A June 1 deadline required consolidation of city-county water-sewer facilities to receive grants to upgrade Crozet’s sewer system, which discharges into the Rivanna.

The agency was born out of secrecy. The 2-month closed meeting negotiations made the news a week before election May 2, 1972. The night before Council elections, the Council voted to open the talks to the public. Incumbent Mayor Mitch Van Yahres, the chief negotiator, and George Gilliam were elected.

When Hendrix became RWSA director in ’01, the 1977 urban renewal chairman Rich Collins was RWSA chairman of the board. These men didn’t share their relevant experience with the community because they were hiding their past records. They had decades of practice manipulating the press.

Under the new leadership since 2004, the agency has continued the drought crisis hoax. How does a simple falsehood become a full-blown hoax?

The Emperor’s invisible clothes

The falsehood becomes a hoax when the King’s court goes along with the party line. The officials, the press, the experts all say how incredible the Emperor’s new clothes truly are. The hoaxers don’t give any detailed information about the gossamer threads. The hoax depends on charisma and grandstanding to convince people of the invisibility. But everybody knows there’s no such thing as invisible clothes. If there were, why would you wear them in public? But all the respected leaders, who should know better, go along with it.

The less informed public goes along because the experts know what they’re talking about…until someone outside the expert group speaks the plain truth where everybody can hear it. Remember the little boy spoke the truth at a public parade where the Emperor was boldly strutting his nakedness in everyone’s face.

Charlottesville has many hoaxes. We’re like a communist country. Everything’s falling apart, the infrastructure is crumbling, but newspapers say how great things are and how the latest 5-year comprehensive plan was successful. It’s a city of secrets.

I hope this essay sheds some light and helps to understand what’s going on. It’s mostly personalities and very little science.

Monday, March 10, 2008

2000 Revenue Sharing speech on video

Charlottesville, Va.- The 30-minute video from April 11, 2000 at the Senior Center captures the speeches given that day by 8 of the 9 candidates. It was the first forum of that year's City Council campaign and, for some of the speakers, it was their debut to the political stage.

1. Kevin Lynch (D).
2. John Bright (R).
3. Blair Hawkins (I) revenue sharing.
4. John Pfaltz (R).
5. Elizabeth Fortune (R).
6. Kevin Cox (I).
7. Stratton Salidis (I).
8. Meredith Richards' (D) speech cut short at end of tape.

Maurice Cox (D) was out of town for the first forum. Nicholas Shannon was the camera man and initial voice on the video.

The last time there were this many Council candidates was 1976. A Daily Progress front page displayed a photo of each of the 10 candidates leading up to Election Day. The 2000 video shows the late Mitch Van Yahres arrived late and missed the speech against revenue sharing. At the time, I gave a copy to NBC-29 for the historical record

I (Hawkins) decided to run because my friend Stratton was running. I said to myself...if some dude can move here and a couple years later campaign for town council, then I, a local native, could consider myself a logical candidate. I was the only candidate who had attended the schools funded by City Council.

I had a campaign strategy. By focusing on serious issues, I hoped to trivialize the other candidates. But there was a downside to the substance. My message didn't fit neatly into soundbites. But I knew I would be speaking to the future. I knew I had to preserve my own history. I knew I would make mistakes.

The next night I reinforced the revenue sharing argument at the Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association forum (Apr. 12). This time I rehearsed and timed my speech to fit within the 3 minutes. I was able to make hay because there had been a shootout that morning one block from my house. A school bus was passing by and saw the gunfight in the 600 block of Hinton Avenue in Belmont. I called on people to inform on the perpetrators as I had turned in the city and county for taxation without representation.

My anti-revenue sharing argument was flawed. Taxation without representation is perfectly legal in the United States. The revenue is represented by county supervisors who spend it on the city. In the city the free money has subsidized urban neglect, failed projects, and allowed Council to become increasingly unresponsive. As with any welfare, the city resentment toward the county has grown and was demonstrated in the YMCA pool debate.

For me, the third forum (Apr. 13) was the most emotional of the 6 forums that election cycle. At Charlottesville High School, the first words out of my mouth were "This is a violent school." I went on to detail the violence and analyze the pro-violence policies. Whenever you force a kid to be in school who doesn't want to be there, you will have problems. But our teachers have no respect from the children because the children are not safe. In 2006 the city elected 3 school board members who made excuses and justified the malicious violence.

The fourth and fifth forums were on the environment. I had a position paper which I handed out at the Apr. 19 Green Vision forum at Gordon Avenue library. The Sierra Club had a forum at Unitarian Church on Rugby Road. The Sierra Club forum is where Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority director Arthur Petrini explained that water restrictions were not ordered for the 1999 drought because water reserves had not fallen below 60%.

The League of Women Voters sponsored the final forum at Lane Auditorium. I refined my positions on revenue sharing, public safety, school violence, and water quality. I hope this summary gives some context.

Document of Charges. Letter to the President April 7, 2000. Incendiary Closing Remarks: "If you need another reason to stop revenue sharing, I offer this: Revenue without Representation gives the appearance of treason. A crime against democracy is the highest crime in the nation. I urge the city and county to strike down revenue sharing."

12 people call for investigation revenue sharing.

Speech at Fry's Spring Beach Club April 12, 2000

Speech to City Council April 17, 2000

The campaign brochure - business card.

Question 1, League of Women Voters forum April 22, 2000.

Question 2, League of Women Voters forum April 22, 2000. I constantly hear people basically say we can't do anything different than how we're doing it now. Hollywood Video serves as model to reform city government.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

1982 Revenue Sharing agreement published

Charlottesville, Va.- Below are all 9 pages of the actual 1982 Revenue Sharing agreement between the independent city of Charlottesville and the surrounding county of Albemarle. There's also a table of transfer payments since the agreement took effect. Below that is my first attempt to make the formula more meaningful. Feel free to add a comment or correction. Thanks to Joe Thomas of WCHV for emailing the document to me and thanks to Hank Martin who made the document available to Joe.

Historic Preservation Guide, Charlottesville, Virginia July 1980, Page 6.

The Formula

Information needed:

- Population of the city and county as determined by US Census, and by the Tayloe Murphy Institute of the University of Virginia in years between censuses.

- True real property tax rates for city and county as determined by Virginia Department of Taxation.

- Total Assessed Value of Taxable Property for city and county to find Total Contribution to revenue and economic growth sharing fund.

a=city and b=county

Step 1: Population Index

PIa = Pa / (Pa + Pb)
PIb = Pb / (Pa + Pb)

Step 2: Tax Index…T=Tax Rate

TIa = Ta / (Ta + Tb)
TIb = Tb / (Ta + Tb)

Step 3: Composite Index

CIa = (PIa + TIa) / 2
CIb = (PIb + TIb) / 2

Step 4: Contribution to Fund…0.0037 is a valuation factor (37cents per $100 assessed value)

Ca = (0.0037)(Total Value of Taxable Property in city)
Cb = (0.0037)( “ “ county)

Step 5: Distribution

Da = (CIa)(Ca + Cb)
Db = (CIb)(Ca + Cb)

Step 6: Net Transfer

Net = Da – Ca = Db – Cb

Here’s the first example given for Jan. 31, 1983 initial payment.

Pa = 39,916
Pb = 55,783
Ta = 0.91510
Tb = 0.49848

CIa = ½ [ (Pa / (Pa+Pb)) + (Ta / (Ta+Tb)) ]
CIb = ½ [ (Pb / (Pa+Pb)) + (Tb / (Ta+Tb)) ]

Ca = (0.0037)($651,387,930) = 2,410,135
Cb = (0.0037)($1,229,123,396) = 4,547,759

Total Contributions C = (Ca+Cb)=6,957,894


Da=(CIa)(Ca+Cb)= (0.5323)(6,957,894) = 3,703,687
Db=(CIb)(Ca+Cb)= (0.4677)(6,957,894) = 3,254,207

Net Transfer
NET = Da – Ca = Db – Cb

NETa = Da–Ca= 3,703,687 – 2,410,135 = +$1,293,552
NETb = Db–Cb= 3,254,552 – 4,547,759 = –$1,293,552

(+) is transfer to you and (–) is transfer from you

NETa= (CIa)(Ca+Cb) – (0.0037)(total assessed property value for city)
NETb= (CIb)(Ca+Cb) – (0.0037)( “ “ county)