James River Water Authority

Members of the James River Water Authority listen to opposition towards efforts to construct a water intake and pump station on Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation, Tuesday in Fluvanna County. The Monacan Indian Nation says the proposed project would disturb the burials of their ancestors and destroy the historic Monacan capital of Rassawek, first recorded by Capt. John Smith in 1612.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — An archaeologist consulting on a controversial water project in Fluvanna County misrepresented her degree on her resume, according to state officials.

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources said in a letter to the James River Water Authority an archaeological consultant on the water intake and pump station project, Carol Tyrer, was unqualified.

“It was brought to our attention that her resume was inaccurate and that though it stated that she had a master’s in history, archaeology and culture, that she in fact does not,” said Julie Langan, VDHR director and state historic preservation officer. “Instead, she has a master’s in global affairs, and therefore, she does not, in our opinion, meet the Secretary of the Interior’s standards.”

In a letter directed to the authority’s board chairman, Langan said the letter was not a denial of the anticipatory burial permit application or of the permit itself. An anticipatory burial permit would allow JRWA to “remove and temporarily curate human remains” that might be disturbed by the project.

Instead, “it was a request for JRWA to revise its current application to comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s regulations governing permits for the archaeological removal of human remains,” Langan said in the letter.

The letter also requests an in-person meeting to discuss the matter, “to prevent any further miscommunication as to our expectations and goals with respect to this project.”

Last week, Langan said there are many points in a response letter from JRWA that VDHR wants to discuss.

“In hindsight, we could have waited another month or two to say that this consultant wasn’t qualified, but I thought it was in the best interests of the applicant to know that sooner rather than later,” Langan said.

The water intake and pump station are part of a larger project to bring water from the James River to a water treatment facility in Louisa County, and ultimately would serve the Zion Crossroads area in Fluvanna and Louisa counties.

The project and the authority have received pushback from residents and elected officials.

The site for the intake and pump station is Point of Fork at the confluence of the Rivanna and James rivers, which played a role in the Revolutionary War and is also known as Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation. The site was chosen in 2014 and moved slightly in 2016.

Justin Curtis, an attorney for JRWA, said the site was not chosen based solely on cost. He said engineering, water quality and environmental factors also were considered when choosing the site.

“There wasn’t one single factor that was a determining factor, it’s a list of number of different factors that played into that decision,” he said.

The Rivanna River does not have enough water for the pump intake, Curtis said, and the James River is too sediment-laden downstream of the confluence with the Rivanna. The intake has to lie on the bottom of the river.

A water treatment plant in Louisa has already been built, as has a raw waterline from the plant to Route 6 in Fluvanna, where a “T” connection exists for Fluvanna to connect an additional raw water line later.

“So, if you move the water intake upstream or downstream any significant distance, you’re increasing the length of [the] raw water main, which increases the amount of streams [or] wetlands you’re going to potentially be impacting,” he said. “It increases the amount of forest you’re impacting, it increases the number of property owners that you affected by putting the waterline [on] their property.”

Some of the water main route is co-located within already existing easements, Curtis said.

“Cost is also an issue, and unfortunately that’s the truth of the matter,” he said. “There are 60,000 residents in Louisa and Fluvanna counties that ultimately are responsible for financing this project. When we looked at the various alternatives, the costs were not just a little bit greater, but substantially greater to have a pipeline route that was a much longer distance.”

The JRWA and others have questioned the timing of the Monacan tribe’s request for a new site, stating in a January memo it was “unfortunate that the Monacans would dramatically reverse their stated position on the project at this late hour after a history of constructive discussions.” The request also was labeled “an eleventh-hour demand.”

The tribe initially had requested monetary compensation in lieu of moving the facility.

Marion Werkheiser, managing attorney of Cultural Heritage Partners and counsel to the Monacan Indian Nation, said at an October 2018 meeting, around a month after her firm was retained by the tribe, she questioned the permitting process thus far and was told there were multiple alternatives to locating the project.

“I was shocked, because up until that point, the tribe had been told that this was the only place that it could go,” she said.

Once Werkheiser learned there had been alternatives considered, she said she requested documents from the Army Corps of Engineers and the JRWA and confirmed there were other alternatives, she and the tribe decided to change the request.

“[In] our next round of comments, we withdrew any request for financial mitigation and said that absolutely our request is that you move this project,” she said.

Jeffrey Hantman, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Virginia, has been working with the Monacans since the late 1980s. He said Rassawek is comparable to the Powhatan’s Werowocomoco, which was purchased by the National Park Service in 2016.

“The place that’s equivalent here in the Piedmont is Rassawek,” he said. “It’s not to be dismissed, it’s not to be minimized and I think from the history that we have and the way people have talked about it for a long time, it is the chiefest home among a group of five chiefly homes that we know.”

Rassawek is one of five Monacan towns drawn on a map by Captain John Smith in the early 1600s.

Some supporters of using the site on Point of Fork for the water intake and pump station have said there isn’t much significance to a chief’s town being at the confluence of two rivers, but Hantman disagrees.

“That just is not true,” he said. “To be at the confluence is to be able to control trade, to control the movement of people — you’re right at the juncture where the Monacan people of the Rivanna River and the Monacan people further up the James all come together at that point.”

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