By. Bryan Rothamel
PALMYRA — The Fluvanna and Louisa Board of Supervisors might finally have a way to get water out of the James River.
It has been discussed for over 20 years and in 24 minutes the two boards were able to move the discussion closer to reality than ever before.
Louisa supervisors called the March 6th meeting to discuss four tennets to having the jointly owned James River Water Authority (JRWA) pull water from the James River and bring it across Fluvanna to the Louisa border.
The points Louisa wanted to discuss were:
1) Is Fluvanna County still interested in a longer term water solution benefiting both counties using the James River Water Authority?
2) Louisa County proposes to run a raw water line from Columbia, directly along the Colonial gas pipeline into Louisa where Louisa would construct and operate a water treatment facility. The facility then could produce usable water along Route 250 for Louisa growth areas.
3) Louisa County proposes to fund the entire project to begin as soon as possible.
4) Louisa County requests to have one additional vote on the JRWA until such time Fluvanna funds their share of the project.
The Fluvanna supervisors found no issues with the first three points. The fourth point fell flat.
“Conceptually we are in agreement. We think it is a project that can move forward, we are very confident it can move forward,” said Louisa chairman Willie Harper (Mineral District) after the meeting.
During the meeting, Fluvanna chairman Shaun Kenney said, “If Louisa is willing to pay for the pipeline, there isn’t much more to discuss.”
The issues the JRWA has had is the board is split evenly by Fluvanna and Louisa representatives. Neither county owns the permit to withdraw water from the James River, it is jointly shared though the authority. Finally, the permit allows withdrawing from the river in the Bremo Bluff area.
To accomplish what Louisa proposes, the JRWA would have to request Department of Environment Quality to have the ‘straw’ placed at Columbia instead of Bremo Bluff. Then Louisa would run the water line along side the Colonial gas line to Ferncliff where it would reach the Louisa border.
That project would be owned by the JRWA. Louisa would then own, all to itself, any pipes or treatment facilities in Louisa County. There is no discussion of what Fluvanna would have to do to become a ‘fully funded parter’ to tap into this raw water line.
“It has always been a joint effort, continues to be a joint effort. We are just going to be the sole participant, payer and benefactor until such time they’ll find the need. It will come,” said Harper.
Louisa estimates the entire project, including the treatment facility to be over $50 million. The project to just get the water from the river to the Louisa border is estimated at $15 million.
This agreement is nothing new to what the JRWA has always been. The only change is Louisa willing to fully fund it to get water quicker than when both parties are ready.
The JRWA’s plan has been to provide raw water across Fluvanna. The intent of the JRWA has been to take raw water out of the James River and then either county can treat it where they wish.
Also, the JRWA still has the agreement that the counties split the intake evenly. In order to change that, both counties would have to agree in contract. If Louisa would want to use more than 50 percent of the intake, then Fluvanna could sell the water wholesale without amending the original agreement.
The Louisa timeline is to request a change of the permit and get approval in about 60 days. Louisa will also work on engineering and design work.
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