Monday, May 05, 2008

Dredging alternative at Citizens forum

“You have to do this, otherwise we don’t talk to you.”—Rich Collins on RWSA’s attitude, not his own policy while RWSA’s chairman 2001-03.

Charlottesville, Va.—Monday night, the dredging of sediment from the South Rivanna Reservoir was the topic at a presentation by Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply. About fifty people attended at the old Social Security Offices in the Market St. Parking Garage facing the mall. I arrived late (7:02 p.m.) and missed the names of the dredging officials.

The bottom line is Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc. would do the dredging for 3½ miles from Rays Ford Bridge to Earlysville Bridge for $25 to $50 million. The company describes itself as “dredging from cradle to grave,” a full array of services.

First there would be a $275,000 feasibility study to take “vibracore” samples and bathymetric mapping of the river bottom. $100,000 of that is for four or five guys to come out for a month and do the geotechnical surveys.

The company believes Panorama Farms has the 50 to 80 acres to store and dry the mud, conveniently located 20 to 30 feet above the river. 75% of the cost of dredging is for disposal, after the material is removed. We need baseline surveys, such as how much usable water above 367 feet. The dredging expert said it’s not feasible to pump the silt to the airport because of elevation and topography.

There were many questions from the audience. In response to Francis Fife, a City Councilor in May 1972 when secret talks to create the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority became public, the more quiet of the two speakers said, “You guys have gone 42 years without dredging and it shows.”

After the questions, two other dredging companies made brief presentations and answered questions.

Blue Ridge Sand, Inc. based in Grayson County offered to dredge one seventh of the sediment over 5 years in a May 19, 2004 proposal. But RWSA wasn’t interested because at that time a 4- and 8- foot bladder to raise the height of the dam was being considered. This speaker said the silt could be dehydrated within 30 minutes and immediately available for transport and only require 3 acres.

Don Meyer and his associate of Dock Doctors based at Smith Mountain Lake offered to do the entire dredging for $21 million on May 15, 2005 as shown by a Freedom Of Information Act request by The Hook. They said their offer still stands. They do dredging at Lake Anna and other sites in Virginia and soon in the Bahamas. They said RWSA wasn’t interested because dredging had been taken of the table, there were no Request For Proposals being advertised.

At the forum, a lot of numbers were thrown around. Different viewpoints were presented. I’m more confused now. I also felt uncomfortable as if in enemy territory. I’ve exposed the hypocritical records of some high profile members of the Citizens group.

The push for dredging is partisan. They didn’t care about dredging when they were in office. If they were in office now, they wouldn’t care. What’s their true motivation? I gave a speech to City Council on August 20, 2001 on the importance of dredging. I'm still here. I’ve just been waiting on the world to change.

All 23 pages of the 2001-02 pamphlet series, includes much local water history.

Citizens for a Sustainable Water Supply

Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc.

Since 1975, GBA has provided consulting engineering services from concept to completion for dredging of port development, land reclamation and coastal engineering projects. With offices located on the major estuaries of the east, west and gulf coasts, GBA is the largest firm in the US specializing in dredging engineering, hydrographic surveys, and subsurface investigations.

NEWS- 'Conservative' tale: When a single Mud Cat just won't do
by HAWES SPENCER, published April 3, 2008, The Hook

As anyone following the ongoing saga of Frederick's effort to avoid dredging the Rivanna Reservoir will recall, consultant Gannett Fleming (which eventually won a $3.1 million dam design contract from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority) later raised its dredging estimate as high as $225 million. That sum is so staggering that it has provoked laughter among would-be dredgers and caused several to come forward offering to perform the operation for far less.

The latest is Dock Doctors. Based at Smith Mountain Lake, the company most recently performed some private dredgings at Lake Anna, and owner Don Meyer says he would happily dredge the Rivanna Reservoir for $21 million.

"I told them three or four years ago that I'd do it for that [price]," Meyer says. "Then they said they weren't interested in dredging, so that was a dead issue."

Meyer says that despite the recent rise in diesel fuel prices, his offer still stands.

Frederick did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but his December 3, 2004 memo [PDF]-- part of a successful effort to avoid a no-confidence vote by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors-- offers some insights. The memo reveals the reasoning that quashed the idea of dredging, an enterprise usually seen as the least environmentally damaging option and one that might save the community from erecting a 112-foot high dam, clear-cutting 180 acres of forest, and building a 9.5-mile pipeline to move millions of gallons of water uphill every day.