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New Investments by Monticello Solve Jefferson’s Water Dilemma

Liz Russell

View of MontaltoWater supply to Monticello, the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson, has been a perpetual problem since its construction. Dry wells, leaky cisterns, and distant water sources may have been the inspiration for Jefferson’s plans to construct an aqueduct from a spring located on Montalto, the “high mountain” that rises 410 feet above Monticello.

While Jefferson’s aqueduct never came to fruition, more than 200 years later the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello is investing in critical upgrades to its public water service with the construction of 200,000-gallon underground tank on Montalto that sends water back down the mountain via underground pipes. This gravity-fed water supply greatly enhances fire suppression safety not only for Monticello, but also for the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center, the Jefferson Library and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.

Jefferson's memorandum for "the improvement of Monticello"We are simultaneously investing in wastewater treatment upgrades to safely and adequately accommodate visitor and operational needs by connecting to the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s Moore’s Creek Treatment Facility, an award-winning facility near Monticello. Transitioning away from on-site wastewater treatment is the most environmentally and archeologically responsible plan. All costs associated with the water and sewer upgrades as well as all ongoing service fees are funded solely by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.

The project broke ground in December 2015 and is scheduled for completion in early 2017. These critical water and sewer upgrades help ensure that Monticello is safeguarded for future generations.

The Mountaintop Project is made possible by a transformational contribution from David M. Rubenstein. Leading support was provided by Fritz and Claudine Kundrun, along with generous gifts and grants from the Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation, the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Birdsall, Mr. and Mrs. B. Grady Durham, the Mars Family, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Charlotte Moss and Barry Friedberg, the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Cabell Foundation, the Garden Club of Virginia, and additional individuals, organizations, and foundations.


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