COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Red Hill Community Well - Request to amend the Albemarle County Service Authority Jurisdictional Area

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Request for public hearing to amend the Jurisdictional Area Boundary to provide water service to Tax Map 87B, Parcels  4, 4A, 6, 6A, 6B, 7, 7A, 8, and 10, located on Taylors Gap Road (Route 710) and Tax Map 87B, Parcels  9, 10A, 11, 12, 60, 60A, 60B, and 61 located on Red Hill School Road (Route 760).

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Cilimberg, Benish; Ms. Ambler

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

November 1, 2006

 

ACTION:                            INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:   X                    INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

County staff has been working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) since 2003 on a study to find a replacement water supply in the Red Hill area.  The replacement water supply is needed due to a major groundwater contamination incident originating at the Trading Post on Route 29.  To this date, 11 wells have been contaminated by gasoline and 7 of these have had carbon filtration units installed, some for many years.  DEQ has already expended over $1 million on investigations, remediation, and maintaining carbon filtration units.  To date 4,400 gallons of gasoline and 4 million gallons of contaminated groundwater have been extracted from the ground.  Although the contaminant plume has stabilized, the complete cleanup of the site is not expected in the foreseeable future due to the extent of contaminated groundwater.  DEQ continues to be concerned that a permanent, reliable water supply needs to be provided for the impacted properties and those still at risk for contamination. 

 

The history of this project is summarized below:

                     At its March 5, 2003 meeting, the Board authorized County staff to work with DEQ to facilitate a long-term water supply solution.

                     DEQ and the County held a public meeting at Red Hill School on April 22, 2003 to inform the public about the situation and seek input on whether a replacement water supply would be supported.

                     On December 10, 2003, the Board authorized the County Executive to sign an interagency agreement with DEQ.  The agreement allowed the County to procure consultant services to study and recommend a replacement water supply, with all study costs to be reimbursed by DEQ.

                     A Request for Proposals was developed in the Fall of 2003, and after a competitive process, Golder Associates was chosen to conduct the study.  The study involves evaluating the feasibility of various water supply configurations:  individual replacement wells, shared wells, or a community water supply.  The work is divided into two phases.  Phase 1 is a preliminary groundwater investigation, and Phase 2 involves more detailed geologic and engineering work to analyze particular water supply options.  Phase 1 was completed in the summer of 2004.

                     On August 11, 2004, based upon the results of Phase 1 of the study and staff recommendation, the Board authorized staff to proceed with Phase 2 of the study, with the selected water supply configuration of a medium size community water well to serve the 11 impacted properties plus additional properties immediately surrounding and/or down gradient from the contaminant plume that may be impacted in the future.

                     DEQ and the County held a public meeting at Red Hill School on December 13, 2004 to present the results of Phase 1 of the study, the options for developing a community water supply system, and the upcoming Phase 2 study.

                     Phase 2 of the study continued through 2005, which included negotiations with landowners to establish a location for exploratory water well drilling.

                     On May 9, 2006 DEQ sent an open letter to the residents in the immediate vicinity of the Trading Post advising that a location for exploratory water well drilling had been secured on the Oakey property.

                     On August 31, 2006 DEQ sent an open letter to the residents in the immediate vicinity of the Trading Post advising that a successful exploratory water well had been drilled on the Oakey property, and that the County, Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, Albemarle County Service Authority, and Albemarle County Schools were coordinating the potential establishment and maintenance of a community water system. 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

2.2 Protect and/or preserve the County's natural resources

 

DISCUSSION:

The subject property for this request is not within a Development Area.  The Comprehensive Plan provides the following guidance concerning water service in the Rural Area:

 

General Principle:  Discourage the utilization of central water and/or sewer systems or the extensions of public water and sewer into the rural Area except in the cases where public health and safety are at issue.  Rural Area development will be served by individual water and septic systems only (central water facilities are considered wells, springs, or other systems capable of serving three or more connections).

 

Recommendation:  New central water systems in the Rural Area shall be strongly discouraged except for solving potable water and/or health and safety problems.  Any new central systems approved due to potable water and/or health and safety problems must meet ACSA standards and not allow residential densities to increase beyond the density achievable with individual on-site facilities.

 

Staff opinion is that the existing groundwater contamination poses a significant health and safety issue and a water system is needed in the area to provide safe potable water to existing parcels.  Therefore, this request is consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Plan. 

 

The Comprehensive Plan provides the following guidance concerning the designation of the ACSA jurisdictional area boundary:  Only allow changes in jurisdictional areas outside of designated Development Areas in cases where the property is: (1) adjacent to existing lines; and (2) public health and/or safety is in danger.

 

As outlined above, there is a definite health and safety issue.  Due to the location and extent of the threat (which includes the Red Hill Elementary School) this request is consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Plan even though the location is not adjacent to existing lines.  Staff finds the central well system is the only alternative to adequately address the problem.

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

The community well and water system will be owned by RWSA and operated by ACSA, who will bear the financial impact of the long term operational cost.  The Virginia Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) fund is being utilized by DEQ for this project, and the current case has access to a total of $1 million.  A portion of these funds are being used and will continue to be used by DEQ for remediation of the Trading Post site and long-term monitoring of groundwater.   These funds will also be used by DEQ to develop the well and distribution system and connect households to the system.  DEQ has committed that any funds remaining will be provided to the ACSA to subsidize the operation of the system so that customer costs are in keeping with the rest of the County.  While this will alleviate the burden of operating this small system for a period of time, it can be assumed that the system will operate at a financial loss in the long-term to maintain a reasonable customer cost. 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends proceeding to a public hearing to consider amending the jurisdictional area map to allow for water only designation for the properties Tax Map 87B, Parcels 4, 4A, 6, 6A, 6B, 7, 7A, 8, and 10, located on Taylors Gap Road (Route 710) and Tax Map 87B, Parcels 9, 10A, 11, 12, 60, 60A, 60B, and 61 located on Red Hill School Road (Route 760).  These properties have been identified by DEQ as having contaminated wells or continue to be at risk for contamination in the future.  Staff recommends that the community well only serve the residents/parcels whose private wells are contaminated or identified by DEQ to be at risk for contamination.  These properties do not include parcels in the Southern Hills Subdivision, which in the past was considered to be at risk of contamination.  According to the most recent opinion of DEQ, while the Southern Hills Subdivision is certainly downgradient of the contaminant plume, DEQ does not consider the wells in that area to be at risk at this time based upon the continued monitoring of a sentinel well located on the south side of South Branch this well has remained free of contamination to date, indicating that the stream may be acting as a local groundwater divide.    

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A Location Map

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