By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
Greene County residents could experience the benefits of a new water supply and storage system by 2014. Last week (7/26), in a joint meeting, the Board of Supervisors and the Stanardsville Town Council unanimously approved a regional water supply plan and the joint permit application (JPA) for the proposed White Run Pump Storage Reservoir, which will allow for sufficient raw water storage to meet the projected demands of the county and town of Stanardsville through 2050.
According to U.S. Census data, Greene County’s population increased 48 percent between 1990-2000, ranking it the sixth fastest growing county in Virginia. The 2010 Census reflects a 20-percent growth rate from 2000 to 2010, compared with a 9% statewide population growth rate for the same time period.
The county continues to experience significant residential and commercial growth. In 2008, the demand for water was 1.8 million gallons per day (MGD), with municipal community water systems using .636 MGD. Total projected demand for 2050 is 3.5 MGD for municipal community water systems and as much as 5.9 MGD for “peak day demand.”
Projected continued growth and demand, plus the drought experienced in recent years, points to the need for an additional water source other than relying solely on the Rapidan Service Authority (RSA), the primary source for the county and town since 1970. The existing plant is already at or near capacity on peak days.
Aware of the growing needs of current users and expressing a desire to encourage future business opportunities, supervisors have been working toward the goal of water impoundment for years. “Identifying a sustainable water supply is essential for everything we have in this county,” Chairman Steve Catalano (at-large) told residents during the hearing. “With this one shot, the county’s needs will be taken care of for the next 50 years.”
WW Associates (WWA), a civil and environmental engineering firm that conducted an analysis of the county’s needs and projected growth and studied alternative reservoir sites, presented their findings at last night’s public hearing. Mr. Herbert White, president of WWA, explained to supervisors and council members that the site located on a tributary to White Run, just north of Dairy Road (Rte. 633) and just east of Watson Road (Rte. 640), scored the highest of the five pumped storage and four on-stream alternatives studied. WWA determined White Run to be the site with the least environmental impact and the best overall score in infrastructure impacts, easement acquisition, historical impact, property owner impact, and estimated cost.
Total estimated cost for the White Run Reservoir project is approximately $35 million. This includes construction costs associated with the dam and reservoir, the pump stations, water treatment plants, raw and finished water piping, estimated property acquisition costs, wetland and stream mitigation costs, and engineering and construction administration. Water would be pumped from the Rapidan River during wet weather and stored in the reservoir for usage during dry weather periods, causing minimal impact of the river. The target for pump storage is 900 mg.
Finding an alternative water source has been a “high priority for the county and town,” said Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe before asking council members to vote on the plan and JPA. Town Council unanimously passed the resolution, followed by the supervisors’ discussion and unanimous vote in favor as well. Supervisor Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) expressed his overall pleasure with the plan, stating it is “well thought out and extensive, environmentally friendly… and will have a tremendous impact on the community,” adding that the board has been discussing a water supply plan for more than a decade.
Deadline for submission of the JPA is November 2, 2011. The JPA is a permit process required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) before any work can be conducted in U.S. waters.
Only two residents spoke at the hearing, concerned as to how the proposed pump station at White Run would impact their adjacent property. This being only the preliminary stage of applying for the project, they were told it was premature to discuss such concerns until the application is accepted and the review process begins. The COE/DEQ regulatory review is expected to be completed by mid 2012, overlapping with project design. Startup for the proposed pumped storage reservoir and associated water treatment plant is estimated to be December 2014.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credits (County of Greene, WW Associates)