South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

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Coordinates:Erioll world.svg.png 38°05′55″N 78°28′59″W / 38.098564°N 78.483152°W / 38.098564; -78.483152

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir
Type reservoir
Owner RWSA
Built 1966

The South Fork Rivanna Reservoir is located on the South Fork Rivanna River. The dam and reservoir were constructed in 1966 and it serves as the primary source of raw water for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority's (RWSA) Urban Service Area.[1] Outflow for consumption is treated at the South Fork Rivanna Water Treatment Plant

The South Fork Rivanna dam also generates electrical power used by RWSA.


Voters in Charlottesville approved the issuance of $3 million in bonds for the project in a referendum on the June 12, 1962 general election ballot. [2] The Charlottesville City Council authorized the purchase of 16.48 acres in Albemarle County owned by the Thyl Corporation for use as a new reservoir for the community's water system. Council authorized purchase at an amount of $200 per acre, with an additional $100 per acre to serve as a "flooding easement."[3]

In the 1970s, there was concern about pollution and eutrophication in the body of water, after a University of Virginia environmental scientist warned that the reservoir was suffering from agricultural run-off and was threatened by further nearby development. In August 1975, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors put a moratorium on new construction, which was lifted the next month once new control measures were put in place.

The moratorium became an election issue in 1975, with many new candidates supporting a moratorium upsetting incumbents[4].

The new board voted 4-1 to halt urban construction within 25 miles of the reservoir in January, 1976 on an emergency basis. [5] [6]

A public hearing on what to do was held on February 4, 1976. [7]

Hydro Electric Power

A major rehabilitation of the hydro electric plant at the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir dam was performed in the 2000s that restored it to operation. The hydro plant was designed when it was originally built to require a minimum flow of 75 mgd to operate. As of September 2010, RWSA officials say it is put in operation to generate electricity when wet weather flows are sufficient.[8]

In the water supply plan

2008-09 Stewardship Task Force

The South Fork Rivanna Reservoir Stewardship Task Force met during 2008-2009.

Dredging Feasibility Study

In 2009, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to conduct a series of studies to determine the feasibility of dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir back to its original volume. On June 5, 2009, the RWSA announced the members of the selection committee that will examine the bids that are received.

The dredging feasibility study was completed in June 2010 by HDR Engineering. [9] Carey Burch, the HDR project manager, made a presentation on June 30, 2010 on the costs and feasibility of dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. HDR recommended a multi-phase, one-time dredging project that would cost $34 million to $40 million and take about seven years.[10]

HDR estimated that they would remove approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sediment. [11]

Maintenance dredging

The RWSA's capital improvement program includes $3.5 million to be used to contribute to a public-private partnership to dredge the reservoir.[12] A request for proposals was issued in 2012. In July 2012 the RWSA entered into negotiations with Houston-based Orion Marine Group, Inc. for the maintenance dredging operation. The firm estimates the project will increase the reservoir's capacity by 60 million gallons of water. Orion was chosen as the only company whose proposal met with guidelines given by the RWSA,[11] however, one company, Blue Ridge Sand, is appealing the case, arguing that the requirement of presentation of an audited financial statement at the conceptual stage of a project unfairly favors large companies.[13] Although sections of the Orion proposal stated that sediment removed from the reservoir will put in a disposal facility at Panorama Farms,[11] Panorama Farms has stated that no business relation exists as yet.[13]


  1. Community Water Supply Project Permit Support Document, Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, 30 June 2006.
  2. Web. Bond Issue is Approved; Scribner and Ponton win, Ruth Lane, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, June 13, 1962, retrieved September 3, 2022. Print. June 13, 1962 page 1.
  3. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, 5 April 1966.
  4. Print: Reservoir Moratorium vote Expected, Ben Critzer and Douglas Pardue, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises January 10, 1976, Page B9.
  5. Print: Board Orders Building Halt, Ben Critzer, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises January 15, 1976, Page A1.
  6. Print: The Seventies: Central Virginia Ends Decade of Joy and Tragedy, Doug Kamholz, Daily Progress, Worrell Newspaper group January 1, 1980, Page A6.
  7. Web. County of Albemarle, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Minutes, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Albemarle County, February 4, 1976, retrieved July 14, 2019.
  8. E-mail. Frederick, Thomas, Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority. "SFRR and Hydro Power." Message to Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow. 8 Sept. 2010.
  9. Print: Cost Estimates for Dredging South Fork Rivanna Reservoir Released, Shulleeta, Brandon, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises , Page {{{pageno}}}. Also available at the Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center.
  10. Wheeler, Brian. "Dredging of South Fork Rivanna Reservoir Critiqued by Residents in Public Input Session." Web log post. Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center. 1 July 2010. Web. 8 Sept. 2010. <>.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Web. RWSA in talks to dredge South Fork reservoir, Courtney Beale & Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, July 27, 2012, retrieved July 30, 2012.
  12. Web. RWSA sets aside $3.5 million to dredge South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, retrieved May 30, 2012.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Web. Panorama Farms wants answers on dredging, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, August 6, 2012, retrieved August 8, 2012.