Wild waters: new dam would inundate hidden park

The lower Ragged Mountain dam was called Mayo's Rock Dam when it opened in 1908 as a granite block structure mortared with concrete.

Four hundred feet long and 67 feet high, the lower Ragged Mountain dam stands at the center of the local water supply controversy. Located at the end of a short but steep hike from a parking area at the end of Reservoir Road (just off Fontaine Avenue), it's the centerpiece of a 980-acre natural area that's scheduled to be flooded.

There are seven miles of hiking trails around the two lakes. The park is owned by the City of Charlottesville and, since 1999, managed by trustees of the Ivy Creek Natural Area.

About 180 acres of forest– over 50,000 trees, say opponents of the proposal– would be clear-cut to double the footprint and quadruple the water storage capacity under a plan backed by the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, which would also construct a pipeline to bring in water from the Rivanna River, 9.5 miles away. [See story beginning on page 22.]

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1 comment

Many have mistakenly thought the RM dam needing repair is earthen.
It is not. This is an excellent description of the dam which simply needs a spillway repair, estimated in 2003 by Gannett Fleming to cost 3.5 million, and the wilderness Natural Area that will be lost if the new dam goes forward. The 5 miles of roads that will be constructed to build the dam and reinforce the embankment at I64, and the construction of the dam itself would destroy what birds and wildlife need to survive, mostly unfragmented forest. Presently the Natural Area comprises 980 acres of mature growth forest, perfect for the 135 species of birds, as well as wildlife which call it home.