local governments will be willing to require of individual property owners when it comes to
their usage practices. Aggressive voluntary conservation measures, while helpful lowering
demand and our water bills, may not be acceptable to state regulators as targets for long
range planning for the public water supply.
“They don’t feel like there is a lot of room for us to get smarter
with water savings,” said Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris after
meeting with state officials in 2009. “I still feel strongly that the 5%
conservation rate [in the plan] is too low. But I don’t know what the
right number is yet.”
We continue to have a growing population.
The 2008 combined population for our localities is estimated at 133,306 people. Since
2000, our community has approved almost 16,000 new homes to be built, which could
accommodate about 40,000 new residents. This development will be in designated
growth areas connected to public water and sewer.
While the change of the Biscuit Run development into a new state park eliminates 3,100
of those homes, other parts of the County’s growth areas have been found to have the
capacity to include a much larger number of residences. This information was unavailable at
the time consultant Gannett Fleming estimated our water needs in May 2004.
A key finding in recent studies by Albemarle County (master plans for the growth areas)
and by Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP’s optimal population
study) is that both the City and County have the capacity to hold a much larger population,
up to 400,000 people in ASAP’s August 2009 research.
In an interview about that research, ASAP’s Jack Marshall, a former chairman of the
Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, observed that the community’s growth has slowed
recently “because of the global economic downturn.”
“There is no question that temporarily we are growing slower,” said
ASAP’s Jack Marshall. “I am afraid that might lull our community
into a false sense that we have licked the growth problem when in
fact it will roar back as soon as people want to buy houses again.”
Marshall said the community’s population could reach 200,000 by 2040. The approved
fifty-year water supply plan is expected to accommodate growth through 2050 when
Gannett Fleming estimated we would have a population of 207,000.
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