Central Water Line Project


The Central Water Line Project will hydraulically interconnect the Urban Area Drinking Water System, which includes all of the City and designated portions of the County served by public water produced by one of the three Urban Area Water Treatment Plants (South Rivanna, Observatory, North Rivanna).  The project will include drinking water transmission pipes which will more efficiently convey drinking water from the Observatory Water Treatment Plant, located near UVA’s Scott Stadium, to the City and to portions of the County within the Urban Area, and generally strengthen the Urban Area Drinking Water System for the benefit of both the City and the County.

Central Water Line Routing Study

  • In the spring of 2021, a detailed routing study was conducted by RWSA’s engineering consultant, Michael Baker International (“Baker”), in coordination with the City’s Utilities and Traffic Departments and the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) to evaluate multiple water line routing options and define an acceptable path across the center of the City.
  • The new water line is anticipated to be approximately 5-miles long, consist of 24” and 30” ductile iron water main, and connect 3 major RWSA water transmission mains (the 24” Observatory Water Line on the western side of the City near UVa, the 24” Urban Water line in the center of the City near the intersection of Roosevelt Brown Boulevard and Main Street, and the 18” Pantops Water Line at the intersection of East High Street and Long Street).
  • The Routing Study evaluated numerous factors including constructability, public and neighborhood impacts, traffic impacts, easements, permitting, access, construction cost, railroad crossing locations, opportunities to coordinate with City projects, and underground utility congestion.  After thorough consideration of these criteria, the team decided on a route for the water line which generally included the following streets from west to east:  Stadium Road, Piedmont Avenue, Price Avenue, Lewis Street (to railroad), Jefferson Park Avenue, Cleveland Avenue, Cherry Avenue, Elliot Avenue, 6th Street SE, Avon Street (to railroad), E Water Street, 10th Street NE and/or 11th Street NE, and E High St to Long Street.  A map of the proposed Central Water Line Route is provided below.  The final route will be determined during the detailed design phase of the project.
  • A copy of the Routing Study can be viewed here.
  • Letter to property owners along the proposed route.
  • Project Fact Sheet.
  • January 2022 drone video of proposed Central Line Route:

Central Water Line Overview (click image for full size PDF)




Southern Loop Agreement

  • In October 1987, the City, ACSA, and RWSA signed the Southern Loop Agreement.
  • This Agreement outlined two phases of a project to expand RWSA’s water transmission and storage system to better connect and strengthen the urban water system.
  • The first phase was built at the time of the Agreement and included a two-million gallon storage tank (the “Avon Street Tank”) near the intersection of Mill Creek Drive and Avon Street Extended and a new 20” transmission main to connect the new tank and the Observatory Water Treatment Plant (WTP).

Avon to Pantops Water Line

  • Following construction of the first phase of the Southern Loop Water Line, the Avon Street Tank was hydraulically well connected to the Observatory WTP, while the Pantops Tank was well connected to the South Rivanna WTP.  However, the hydraulic connectivity between major pipes in the City and the two tanks was less than desired and created operational challenges and reduced system flexibility.
  • A Request for Proposals was solicited for professional engineering services in 2017 associated with the routing, design, permitting, easement acquisition, and construction of a new water main to connect the southern urban service area between the Avon Street Tank and the Pantops Tank.  Following Board approval, a work authorization was executed to complete the intent of the second phase of the Southern Loop Water Line and was generally referred to as the “Avon to Pantops Water Line”.
  • In August 2018, route alignment determination, hydraulic modeling, and preliminary design were underway when it was determined that due to the complicated nature of our finished water system, a more comprehensive approach was warranted.  It was decided that we should complete a Finished Water Master Plan prior to moving forward with final design and construction of the Avon to Pantops Water Line, so the project was placed on hold.

Finished Water Master Plan

  • At the August 2018 Board meeting, the Executive Director was authorized to execute a work authorization with Baker under their term contract to complete the Finished Water Master Plan.
  • This work took several years to complete.  It included collection of operational data from RWSA, ACSA, the City, and UVa and field-testing data.
  • A hydraulic model was calibrated to incorporate updated demand projections from the Urban Water Demand Project and Safe Yield Study (prepared by others), planned Capital Improvement Projects, and upgrades at Observatory and South Rivanna WTPs, which are currently under construction.
  • Following multiple workshops with the City Utilities Department and ACSA, results from the study demonstrated that a central water line corridor through the City was the best option to hydraulically interconnect the southern half of the urban area water system, meeting the intent of the original Avon to Pantops Water Line concept and improve hydraulic efficiency and flexibility in the urban water system.
  • A copy of the Urban Finished Water Master Plan can be viewed here.

Central Water Line Design and Bidding

  • In June 2021, the Board of Directors authorized a work authorization with Baker for preliminary engineering, geotechnical investigations, subsurface utility engineering, survey, final design, permitting, plat preparation, public outreach, and bidding services associated with the Central Water Line project.
  • Preliminary design and coordination with City Utilities and Traffic Departments, ACSA, UVa, and railroads has begun.
  • Survey notification letters were sent to private property owners along the proposed route in November  2021.
  • The preliminary project cost estimate for the Central Water Line Project is $31 M.



  • December 2021-March 2022:  Complete survey and subsurface utility engineering
  • Summer 2022 – Complete 30% Design Documents
  • Winter 2022-2023 – Complete Geotechnical Work and 60% Design Documents
  • Spring-Summer 2023 – Easement Acquisition and Permitting
  • Fall 2023 – Complete 90% Design Documents
  • Winter 2023-2024 – Complete design and bid the project
  • Spring 2024 – Award construction project to contractor
  • 2028 – Complete construction


For more information on this project, please contact: Michelle Simpson, P.E., Senior Civil Engineer, (434) 977-2970 ext. 202 or msimpson@rivanna.org