Closure Update from Loudoun Water

The reservoir will be closing as planned on November 1. The good news is trail access is not. Below is the notice from our friends at Loudoun Water:

Beaverdam Reservoir Renovation Project Update

Loudoun Water will begin the Beaverdam Reservoir Renovation project on November 1, 2016. This project is designed to improve safety and reliability by bringing the dam into compliance with Virginia dam safety regulations for high hazard dams.

The project includes phased excavation, diversion of water, construction of a new concrete spillway, embankment improvements, control tower modifications, a new transfer pump station and electrical building, improved drainage systems, instrumentation and controls improvements, and a permanent stream crossing.

With construction starting, there will be new rules for public access. Beginning November 1, 2016, Beaverdam Reservoir’s marked trails will be open for public access from dawn to dusk. During the renovation project, water access will be prohibited. No fishing, boating, paddling or other water activities permitted starting November 1. The park access gate will be closed promptly at dusk. For more information on the renovation project, please visit Loudoun Water’s Current Projects web page.

Loudoun Water and NOVA Parks are planning to hold another community input session to share an update on the future vision of Beaverdam Reservoir. Information gathered from last year’s community meeting can be found on www.loudounwater.org.

Look for an upcoming notice on the next meeting that will be held before the end of the year!

Is Loudoun Water limiting flow to Goose Creek?

Great article from Loudoun Times, I haven’t seen this much detail in their reporting yet. Below is a tiny snippet from the larger article.

http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/after_allegations_of_running_goose_creek_dry_loudoun_water_agrees786

Rich Coffman spent over four decades of his life fishing, swimming and eventually living along Goose Creek.

In the mid-90s he moved to a secluded home next to the creek and now watches over the designated State Scenic River every day.

But last year, Coffman says he began to see some changes to the creek shortly after Loudoun Water acquired Goose Creek from the City of Fairfax.

“Beaverdam Reservoir upstream from here has always been used to keep Goose full during the low flow periods in the late summer,” Coffman said. “Up until 2014 they always did. They [City of Fairfax] would drain Beaverdam down to augment the flow for Goose. When Loudoun Water bought … the facility from Fairfax City, they stopped that.”

Last September, Coffman noticed the company had shortened its water intake cycle from 24-hours to 12-hours, which he says caused more water to be taken without any supplementation.

“What the consequence was, was that when the river got below 25 cfs [cubic feet per second.] No water goes over the dam down there at Goose Creek. None,” Coffman said. “So, from the dam … three or four miles downstream to the Potomac, there was no water flow for a period of time whenever there would be intaking.”

Coffman immediately alerted the Goose Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee, then Loudoun Water and its board as well the Board of Supervisors about the issue, but was unable to get any written responses.

“They [Loudoun Water] eventually hauled me up to the facility…and had six or seven people surround a table including Mark Peterson to tell me that everything is fine, they are perfectly within their rights to do that to the river, to cut off the flow of water to the river,” Coffman said.

Coffman says Loudoun Water admitted no wrongdoing.

When he realized he would not be able to get the issue resolved by dealing directly with Loudoun Water, Coffman says he went to the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality and to various environmental watchdog organizations to tell about what he had seen.

What happened last year?

Data provided by Loudoun Water analyzed by the Times-Mirror shows that last September, for over a week, the utility company pumped over 50 percent of the water in the creek.

The average flow in the creek is about 234 million gallons per day, but during the period in question, the daily flow in the creek was below 12 million gallons.

Loudoun Now – Beaverdam to be Reborn

An article rather light on the details, but here it is anyway:

Beaverdam Reservoir to be Reborn

Loudoun’s largest lake is a quiet place, disturbed only by singing insects, birds on the wing, wind in the trees, and paddles lapping up the water. It’s also artificial, and it’s getting drained in November.

The county’s largest water utility, Loudoun Water, will partially drain Beaverdam Reservoir to repair the spillway that created the lake, work regulated by Virginia dam safety rules. The reservoir is expected to be closed for about two years, but when it reopens in 2019, Loudoun Water and the Northern Virginian Regional Park Authority hope it will be bigger and better for visitors.

“If you’ve ever driven up and down Belmont Ridge Road on a Saturday, you’ll inevitably pass people with kayaks and canoes on top of their cars,” said NOVA Parks Director of Park Operations Chris Paulie.

His organization manages public access to the reservoir’s waters, and he estimates thousands of people use the lake, including the high school crew teams that practice on the body of water. And more people try the lake all the time.
“It’s really been kind of a little oasis that people are just now discovering,” Paulie said. “It’s been kind of a best kept secret for a long time.”

Loudoun Water purchased the reservoir from the City of Fairfax in 2014 and initially closed it to public assess, citing liability concerns. It reopened the property in May 2015 by partnering with NOVA Parks, but Paulie said it was only ever meant to be a temporary solution. On sunny Saturday mornings, he said, the small parking lot on Mt. Hope Road can be a little tight. That was expected.

“Historically, the Beaverdam Reservoir property has not been planned and designed for public access,” said Loudoun Water Executive Director of Stakeholder Relations Mark Peterson. “There isn’t sufficient parking. The assets around there, the way people can enter the water, is not set up ideally for that, so that’s part of what this process is going to be.”

“There’s a real strong interest in reopening this reservoir with more uses for recreation than what we have right now,” said Loudoun Water’s newly installed Deputy General Manager Tom Frederick, “yet at the same time keeping it within the theme of uses that surround a lake that’s used for drinking water.”

That will limit the possibilities for the lake somewhat, since Loudoun Water doesn’t want to allow contamination for one of its major water sources.

“It’s a drinking water resource first, so whatever we do has to meet those standards, so anything that we think about, or envision, or want to plan, would have to always be done under those guidelines,” Paulie said.

That means no swimming, and except for safety launches, no gasoline engines on the water. But paddling, hiking, picnicking, sightseeing, fishing, electric motors, bike trails, and classroom visits are all in.

“We don’t have details as to what that means right now,” Frederick said. “It’s really still at a vision level, and we’re going to interact with the public to actually help provide some of the ideas.”

The process has already begun with a meeting at the NOVA Parks offices last October. According to a report from that meeting, about 200 people showed up to hear Loudoun Water’s plans and offer their input. They produced a long list of ideas, ranging from marked and separated trails for hiking and biking to buoys and extended hours for fishing.“It’s basically going to be a great passive recreation park, with some real amenities and a message for how the resource is being protected,” Paulie said.

“When we do close it for a little while, I think there will be a little bit of disappointment, but I think people will be excited by what the reservoir will be,” said Loudoun Water Manager of Outreach and Education Sue Crosby.

And before then, if you have a canoe, a paddle, and a few hours free, you have until November to take in the quiet at Beaverdam Reservoir.

Washington Post Article on Temporary Closure

Here is a nice article from the Washington Post regarding the temporary closure to the reservoir starting this fall.

Washington Post: Loudoun’s Beaverdam Reservoir park to close for two years for repair project

By Jim Barnes July 10

Last Sunday morning, dozens of water enthusiasts arrived at a cramped parking lot, traveling solo or in small groups. They unloaded brightly colored kayaks, paddle boards and canoes from their vehicles and pushed off from a small incline into a shimmering, 600-acre body of water.

A fisherman cast his line from the shore nearby, while another dropped his line from a boat a few hundred yards away. A great blue heron flew back and forth, close to the surface, scanning for food and occasionally landing on the shore to take in the scene.

The tranquility at Beaverdam Reservoir was striking, in part because it is such a short distance from the traffic and bustle of Ashburn. Because the reservoir supplies drinking water for thousands of Loudoun residents, the scene was undisturbed by the sounds of gas-powered watercraft, which are prohibited to protect the water quality.

The park is open daily from dawn to dusk — but not for long, said Susan Crosby, a spokeswoman for Loudoun Water, the utility that owns the reservoir. On Nov. 1, the park will close for two years for repairs that will bring the dam and spillway up to state standards. It will reopen permanently in 2019, she said.

The 1,000-acre public park includes the reservoir and adjacent land, much of which is wooded. Beaverdam is accessible from Mount Hope Road, just west of Belmont Ridge Road, near Ashburn.

Despite getting little publicity, the reservoir is a popular spot for outdoor recreational activities, park manager Dale Riggs said.

“On a busy weekend day, we’re doing 300 or more [visitors] at Mount Hope parking area,” Riggs said.

The most popular water activities are kayaking and paddle boarding, Riggs said, adding that four high school crew teams also practice there. There is a two-mile unpaved hiking trail along the east side of the reservoir, and another trail is planned for the west side, he said.

“We can’t make it a loop [around the reservoir], because the dam is off-limits,” Riggs said.

Before Loudoun Water purchased the reservoir from the city of Fairfax in January 2014, recreational use of the property was not supervised, Loudoun Water spokeswoman Crosby said. In spring 2015, Loudoun Water closed the reservoir for a few months.

“When we bought it, we weren’t really sure what all was there,” Crosby said. “We had to do some exploration on the bottom of the reservoir, look at the dam and spillway . . . and we had to lower the water level. It was kind of an unknown at that point.”

The utility’s primary objective has been to protect the water supply, she said.

“Obviously, we’re concerned with the fact that it is a drinking water reservoir, which is why it’s more of a passive recreation park,” she said.

After completing an assessment of the property, Loudoun Water determined that it was safe to use the reservoir for public recreation, and it partnered with Nova Parks, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, to reopen it last summer.

Loudoun Water and Nova Parks had a community meeting in October to gather input on how the park might be used. About 200 area residents attended, Crosby said, providing comments on topics such as environmental stewardship and education, nature appreciation, hiking, fishing, paddling, rowing and picnicking.

While the park is closed, Loudoun Water will work with Nova Parks to create a land-use plan for the property, drawing on feedback from the community input session, Crosby said.

Crosby said she expects to schedule another community meeting in the next year “to share some preliminary plans of what the park is going to look like when it does reopen.”

“We’re really excited about what this is going to be when we’ve done the repair of the dam, and we can focus on the park,” Crosby said. “It’s such a special place. There’s really nothing else like it in Loudoun County.”

Please keep it safe out on the water!

Sunday June 12, there was an incident on the water. According to eye witness reports, a canoe with three people tipped over. Due to high winds and rough waters the three were unable to get back into the canoe. Local paddleboarders assisted until swift water rescue arrived.

Please wear your life jackets and be aware of weather and water conditions. The reservoir is not your neighborhood pool. There is no life guard, things can go very badly if you do not observe safe boating practices.

Always wear your life vest.

Edit: Here is the news article:

Loudoun Now: Three Rescued from Beaverdam

Official Closing Date Announced – Nov 1, 2016

Enjoy the reservoir all you can this summer, in November it will be shut down for scheduled repairs. I just recieved notification from Chris Pauley, director of park operations at NOVA Parks.

Loudoun Water is on schedule with their planning and preparations for the required repairs needed at Beaverdam Reservoir. Loudoun Water will close and begin drawing down the reservoir on November 1st, 2016. The reservoir will remain closed to public access in 2017 and 2018 with the permanent reopening in 2019.

While two years is a long time to not use the reservoir, there are other great alternatives in the area such as Algonkian and the Occoquan. We’re looking forward to the improvements and the permanent opening in 2019!