Is the Louisa/Fluvanna James RIver Pipeline Back?

By. Bryan Rothamel

LOUISA — The James River water pipeline is getting a second look.

The Louisa Board of Supervisors has sent notice, calling a special meeting to be held in Fluvanna with the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors. The Louisa notice states the two boards will meet to ‘discuss the James River Water Project.’

The notice says at 6 p.m. on March 6 in Palmyra. The Fluvanna supervisors have a normally scheduled meeting that day and do not require additional notice beyond the routine meeting notice.

The James River Water Authority, while still a legal entity, has not be active for years. Both counties paid money for the JRWA to defend it legally but it has not been seriously discussed since the summer of 2010 when the two parties split from discussing a water project.

The endeavor was officially canceled, but not disbanded, by Louisa on Aug. 17, 2010 when then Louisa supervisors felt Fluvanna stop acting in good faith towards making a financial decision. Fluvanna’s then leadership allowed a Aug. 16, 2010 Virginia Resource Authority application deadline for financing pass without an application.

There was a Memorandum of Understanding about a possible James River water pipeline  and until that August 2010 deadline, Louisa supervisors were willing to pay for up to half the water pipeline had it met “reasonable standards for costs and water age.” Louisa’s only public concern was to get water from the James River, across Fluvanna and to the Zion Crossroad planning area.

At the time, discussions in Fluvanna raised questions about extending the debt load of the county when the high school debt payments had not fully started. Some residents also voiced concerns about paying half the costs of a water line that would send water directly to where, Fluvanna residents felt, Louisa competed with Fluvanna the most, the Zion Crossroad economic development.

Louisa leaders countered in the Aug. 17, 2010 press release and follow up interviews with Louisa’s availability for future growth was much more limited than Fluvanna’s possible future growth because of Green Springs Historical District. The historical district is federally protected from development. Fluvanna has no such limitations.

Louisa leaders also said Fluvanna could strategically place the pipeline to hit major economic areas inside Fluvanna before even getting to Zion Crossroad. The proposed route was over 22 miles, winding through Pleasant Grove, near Lake Monticello and down Route 250.

The biggest issue about take water from the James River for either county is neither county owns the withdrawal permit. The JRWA owns the permit to take any water from the river. Neither county can get that permit without the authority relinquishing control. The JRWA board has three Fluvanna members and three Louisa members.

Reportedly, the JRWA has not met beyond keeping up with regulated bylaws. The Louisa County’s website last has minutes for the JRWA board dating January 2010. Fluvanna’s last published minutes are February 2010.

The joint Louisa-Fluvanna meeting will happen on March 6 although discussions with Fluvanna sources say the Fluvanna supervisors will have additional agenda items to accomplish before meeting with Louisa.


The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.


Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at

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