New Ragged Mountain Dam 2/3 full or 1/3 Empty?

By. Neil Williamson, President

In action earlier today, (3/2) Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors100_0360 endorsed a resolution to build the proposed earthen dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir in two phases.  The first phase, a dam to allow a 30 foot increase in pool height would begin “immediately” with a second phase, 12 foot addition, to be constructed almost automatically when certain demand triggers are met.

One supervisor described the resolution as a necessary compromise to work with their Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) partner [the City of Charlottesville].  The resolution itself clearly expresses the Board of Supervisors desire to build the project in one phase, but recognizes the politics of the possible:

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors has preferred and continues to prefer that the new earthen dam be constructed in one phase to accommodate an increase in pool height of 42 feet, but acknowledges and recognizes that both the City and County need to agree upon the phasing issue in order to cooperatively and expeditiously move forward with the project; and

WHEREAS, time is of the essence to take advantage of the current cost savings in the construction market and to meet the Commonwealth of Virginia dam safety requirements.

The vote to approve the resolution was 5-1 (Boyd-No) and perhaps spoke to the Board’s desire to move something forward. 

Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) indicated that he was opposed because he did not believe this was the most economical choice.  He also raised concerns regarding the ecological impacts of building in two phases rather than one.  Finally, he questioned whether Albemarle had a true “partner” in Charlottesville.  He recalled Charlottesville’s five year refusal to pay into the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority back in the early 2000’s [The city was upset about a previously signed cost sharing agreement]. 

With this Board of Supervisors resolution, and the motion approved by Charlottesville City Council last week, the new, shorter, earthen Ragged Mountain Dam is one step closer to fruition.

The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the project’s new momentum and wants to see the reservoir as 2/3 full — but firmly believes until the second phase is constructed  (an uncertainty if ever there was one) Ragged Mountain Reservoir will always be 1/3 empty. 

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website


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