Water

Full text of RWSA’s request for assistance in selecting the best option to increase our region’s water supply/storage capacity. That they are requesting the public’s input is a credit to Tom Frederick, the Executive Director of Rivanna.

Get involved (so long as you have an educated opinion!)

Dear Interested Party:

As you are aware, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) is in the process of selecting a preferred alternative for expanding its water supply system. All public presentations and reports issued to date on the planning process are posted on RWSA’s website (www.rivanna.org).

The current project schedule includes submission of a Joint Permit Application (JPA) to the appropriate regulatory agencies early in 2006. While the preferred project alternative has not yet been selected, it is known that any of the alternatives being considered would result in some level of impacts to wetlands and streams, and as such, will require mitigation to compensate for those impacts. A detailed mitigation plan, to include a site plan of specific mitigation projects, will be submitted to the regulatory agencies as part of the JPA. We have the opportunity to submit projects in our own Rivanna watershed, thereby improving water quality in our own backyard.

Studies are currently underway to identify and evaluate potential mitigation projects in the Rivanna watershed. As part of the mitigation study, RWSA is soliciting input from regulatory agencies, public interest groups, and the general public on potential mitigation projects for consideration in the mitigation plan.

Mitigation opportunities may include the following:

• Restoration of degraded or altered wetland and stream systems
• Creation of new wetlands in appropriate landscape positions
• Enhancement of existing, degraded wetland or stream systems
• Preservation of existing wetland and streams
The primary element of the mitigation plan is likely to involve the restoration or creation of streams or wetlands. With respect to streams, sites that are typically most suitable for restoration include previously channelized streams (channels that have been excavated, straightened, and deepened to prevent unusually frequent overtopping of their banks) or streams that have become highly eroded due to changes in the watershed (deforestation, development, new stormwater discharges, etc.). Please note that there are a wide range of actions that may qualify a project as acceptable mitigation. Stream restoration can range from a whole channel restoration, to simply reestablishing riparian buffer along stream channels where it has been lost. Even channels that have a lesser degree of degradation, are acceptable candidates for restoration.

With respect to wetlands, sites for consideration would most likely include low meadows or farmlands adjacent to stream channels that have been manipulated so that the hydrology of the system has changed over time (for example, through ditching or draining). Sites that are wooded, and are more mature are not generally preferred, while a site that has experienced changes in hydrology more recently may be a better candidate.

While stream and wetland restoration or creation projects would form the foundation of the mitigation plan, there are other actions that could lead to improvements or protection of the aquatic environment which could be included as a component of the Plan. These could include projects such as stormwater management projects or possibly fencing of farm animals out of streams. It is anticipated that the Mitigation Plan will include a variety of components to compensate for wetland and stream impacts of the preferred alternative.

It is noted that, any sites selected for wetland or stream restoration and inclusion in the Mitigation Plan must be protected in perpetuity with a conservation easement. Generally the language in such easements enable property owners to maintain ownership and passive use of the property, but would preclude any future construction or manipulation of the site without prior agency approvals. Examples of allowable uses may include hiking or equestrian trails, hunting and fishing. The intent of the protective easement is to allow the newly created or restored system to mature and remain in a natural state.

RWSA welcomes a wide range of interest and input on potential mitigation projects, but asks that interested individuals respond with ideas prior to September 23, 2005. A map showing the location of a project you propose would be welcomed, if that is possible. This will allow the project team to investigate the sites, complete the selection process, and develop conceptual plans in sufficient time to meet the project schedule. Please recognize that not all ideas submitted will be included in the final Mitigation Plan, but please be assured that each suggestion will be given thorough consideration. We will also retain all ideas in our records as we work cooperatively with other agencies regarding watershed management and protection of water resources.

Please send your ideas on potential mitigation projects along with site maps, if possible, to the attention of the RWSA Watershed Manager, Andrea Terry (434-977-2970, x 197), at the letterhead address, by September 23, 2005.

Thank you in advance for your input.

Sincerely,

Thomas L. Frederick
Executive Director

cc: Andrea Terry, RWSA Watershed Manager

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