Possible alternate sites eyed for water

Members of the James River Water Authority, including Fluvanna County Administrator Eric Dahl, Mark Dunning, D.D. Watson, Louisa County Administrator Christian Goodwin and Troy Wade at the Jan. 8 meeting.

The James River Water Authority is considering numerous alternative locations and routes for the pump station and pipeline in case it has to relocate from the disputed Rassawek site.

They include the possibility of not withdrawing water from the James River at all.

Joseph Hines, the lead engineer for Timmons Group on the project, told the authority at its Jan. 8 meeting that the alternative sites are spread from Bremo Bluff, near Route 15 in Fluvanna County, as far east as Goochland County.

Bremo Bluff was the original site a decade ago for the pump station before the JRWA moved it downstream to Point of Fork, near the confluence of the James and Rivanna rivers.

Point of Fork is also where the Monacans say their capital city, Rassawek, was located prior to white settlement. The tribe has threatened a lawsuit if plans continue to build there.

The authority is preparing an alternatives analysis at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which holds the permit for construction. The Corps asked for the analysis after state historical officials and the Monacan Indian Nation raised concerns about the Rassawek site.

“We are required to look at a reasonable range of options,” Hines said. “At this point we have 10 different intake and routing options in total.

“We’re also looking at alternatives independent of withdrawing from the James River. We currently have five of those.”

For each alternative, Timmons is studying the feasibility, cost and environmental impacts, he said.

Hines said the alternatives analysis should be ready in the next two to three weeks.

“We’re moving forward as expeditiously as possible,” he said.

The authority’s law firm, Aqualaw, has completed an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at the project site, said Justin Curtis, an Aqualaw attorney. The findings were discussed in closed session at the Jan. 8 meeting.

Eric Mai, a former employee of Circa, the company hired to conduct archeological work at the site, claimed his employer used unethical practices, including misleading reports about Native American artifacts that were found.