A planned water intake and pump station slated to be built along the James River on the site of the ancient village of Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan Tribe, could be delayed after officials determined an archaeologist consulting on the project was unqualified.
The ramifications of that finding could affect projects beyond the Fluvanna County pump station, officials with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources said. For the local project, the finding means a delay but not necessarily an end. However, the Monacan Tribe is hoping a new archaeologist will recommend a new site.
An official with the James River Water Authority, the entity in charge of the project, said the authority will be contesting the decision.
The pump station is slated for construction at Point of Fork, also known as Rassawek. After the Department of Historic Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers discovered the problem with archaeologist Carol Tyrer and her Williamsburg firm, Circa Cultural Resource Management LLC, they are requiring JRWA to submit new permit applications.
The water intake and pump station is part of a larger project through the water authority to bring water from the James River to a water treatment facility in Louisa County that ultimately would serve the Zion Crossroads area in Fluvanna and Louisa.
The project has been in the works for years, and has received pushback from residents, and elected officials have expressed hesitations before.
Tyrer and Circa had completed a cultural resources survey of the site and a treatment plan.
Julie Langan, VDHR director and state historic preservation officer, said Tyrer’s qualifications were part of the reason they were asking JRWA for a resubmission of the permit application for archaeological excavation of human remains.
“They would need to resubmit it and need to complete the sections that have been left incomplete ... and they would have to propose a different consulting team of archaeologists,” she said.
Langan said that there are federal standards that define certain preservation professions, including archaeologists.
“A closer review of her credentials revealed that she does not meet those qualification standards,” Langan said.
Tyrer did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
“Everyone has wondered why JRWA would have chosen to locate their project on Rassawek [, and] now we know; they relied on advice from a consultant whom DHR has determined lacks the minimum professional requirements,” said Marion Werkheiser, managing attorney of Cultural Heritage Partners and counsel to the Monacan Indian Nation.