By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors held a January 23rd work session to discuss a possible public-private venture to build a portion of the James River water line without Louisa County. The proposal would draw water from the Rivanna River in the first phase.
Aqua Virginia presented a proposal that would:
- Build a waterline from Lake Monticello to Careysbrook to serve the Fork Union area at an estimated cost of $8.1 million;
- Construct a water line from Lake Monticello to Zion Crossroads over a period of 18 months at an estimated cost of $8.5 million; and,
- After the project debt was paid, ownership of the water lines would transfer to Aqua Virginia.
This would constitute the first phase of the project and would meet the immediate objectives of the Board: water to Zion Crossroads and reliable water service for Fork Union.
There would be three additional phases to the project, but would be deferred until justified by a larger customer base. One of those phases would include drawing water from the James River, but perhaps not until 2030. Total cost of these addition phases is estimated to be $21.2 million (current dollars).
According to data provided by Aqua Virginia, the estimated revenues from the new waterlines would reach $1 million by 2018, and water usage would approach the current Lake Monticello by 2022. And that is the problem. This appears to some as a speculative venture, with no guarantee that the customers will show up in sufficient numbers to justify the cost.
It appears that the supervisors currently are split 3 in favor (Booker, Chesser, and Gooch) and 3 opposed (Kenney, Ott, and Weaver) over the merits of the proposal. The pipeline ownership issue and affordability troubled some members. Moreover, Aqua Virginia is looking to invest $1.5 million and expects Fluvanna to contribute the remaining 90 percent ($15.1 million).
Given that virtually no one expects Fluvanna to sign the Joint Water Authority Agreement with Louisa at this point, this project just may end up on the shelf until growing demand rescues it.