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!

Beaverdam Open Longer?

Looks like the reservoir may be open later than through the end of the 2016 season as originally stated. Info from NOVA Parks:

Beaverdam Reservoir, owned by Loudoun Water, is first and foremost a source of public drinking water. Loudoun Water has partnered with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) to manage recreational activities and public access until the spring/summer of 2017. At that time it will close to complete needed repairs to the infrastructure. After repairs are complete, expected to take approximately 1.5 to 2 years, the property will reopen for public access under the management responsibilities of NOVA Parks.

https://www.novaparks.com/parks/beaverdam-reservoir/about

First NOVA Parks/LW Beaverdam Open House was a huge success!

The first open house for Beaverdam held by NOVA Parks was a huge success. The NOVA parks auditorium was completely filled. By my count there was well over 100 people in attendance. Supervisors Clarke and York were in attendance as well as several NOVA Parks board members and even supervisor candidate Charles King made it out. The rowing teams had the most pronounced turnout but it was a diverse group. After an introduction, short movie and updates from Mark Perterson and Paul Gilbert, the crowd was invited to various stations. At the stations guests were able to learn about various efforts and features, as well as submit their feedback and idea. All in all, it was a fantastic turnout for a cold and rainy night. Thanks everyone for making this a great event!

Beaverdam Open House Oct 27.

Beaverdam Open House 2015

NOVA Parks will be hosting the first Beaverdam Open House session on October 27th. Both Loudoun Water and NOVA Parks staff will be on site to answer questions and more importantly listen to your ideas for the future. Please take time to attend, even if just for a few minutes. You are key to shaping the future.

Save the Date: Oct 27. 2015 6:30-8:30PM – First Stakeholder input session

Loudoun Water and NOVA Parks will be having their first stakeholder input session on October 27. Planned time is 6:30-8:30PM. This will be your chance to talk to the Loudoun Water Staff and the NOVA Parks team. They will be soliciting input for the future of the reservoir. Please make time to come, even if only for a brief time, your voice is very important in shaping the future of the reservoir. More details to come.