PALMYRA — the James River Water Authority said Wednesday it will more closely study a potential alternative site for a project that currently is slated to be built on land that was home to Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan nation.
On Wednesday, the authority board voted to allow a consultant to move forward with an archaeological survey of a potential alternative site for the project.
The proposed and recommended site is near Point of Fork at the confluence of the Rivanna and James Rivers, where Rassawek once stood. The tribe and its attorneys have fought the use of the site, citing its history and the potential for burial sites to be disturbed.
The alternative site is about 2.3 miles upstream of the confluence of the rivers.
In August, the JRWA board asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily suspend processing of its pending application to give further consideration to possible alternative project configurations and locations.
Justin Curtis, an attorney for JRWA, said it will likely take between three and four weeks to have meetings, develop the archaeological study plan and get all of the relevant parties to approve it before the work in the field would begin, and then possibly another 30 to 90 days for fieldwork.
“I understand we have the ability to pull the suspension whenever we want, but your advice for right now is to go with the four month holding pattern, and look at those options?” asked Troy Wade, a Louisa County citizen representative on the JRWA board.
“As much as pains me, yes,” Curtis said.
The water intake and pump station is part of a larger project to bring water from the James River to a water treatment facility in Louisa County. The effort ultimately would serve the Zion Crossroads area in Fluvanna and Louisa counties.
After an archaeologist consulting on the project misrepresented her degree on her resume, and despite finding other allegations against the consultant “not credible,” the authority and project team brought on GAI Consultants, Inc. for future work.
Curtis said GAI will be looking at subconsultants to do the field work for the study.
“It’s their decision who they engaged as a subconsultant,” he said. “The Monacans have recommended to us Gray & Pape, and GAI will be giving Gray & Pape a very close look to do this work.”
In an email on Monday, Greg Werkheiser, part of the legal counsel to the Monacan Indian Nation, said the board’s vote is a “very meaningful step forward.”
“The Tribe will collaborate with Gray & Pape as it conducts its study to identify cultural resources along the alternative route, and is hopeful that the study reveals that the impacts along the route are substantially less harmful than the planned path through the heart of Rassawek,” he said.
According to a budget document, the survey of the site will cost about $155,000.