Low lake levels prompt emergency water restrictions

Though rain fell steadily in Chesterfield County Monday, emergency water restrictions were set to go into effect Tuesday, Sept. 28, due to the record low water levels in Lake Chesdin.

On Friday, Sept. 24, the Appomattox River Water Authority asked that localities served by Lake Chesdin issue emergency water restrictions to their customers because of the lake’s declining water level, an ARWA press release says. The authority serves Petersburg, Colonial Heights and portions of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George counties, the release says.

On Friday, Sept. 24, Chesterfield County announced that emergency water restrictions would go into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Emergency water restrictions are triggered when 125 days of water remain in Lake Chesdin. Mandatory water restrictions, which are triggered when 200 days of water remain in the lake, went into effect in Chesterfield County on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

At a Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22, Bill Dupler, interim deputy county administrator for Community Development, said this year’s rainfall totals are about 10 inches short of where they should be.

“We really are facing an unparalleled situation today,” he said. “This will no doubt go down as a historic drought.”

When the flow in the Appomattox River is low, Lake Chesdin is required to release the water that comes into it. There is no release requirement for the Swift Creek Reservoir, Dupler said.

The authority has taken steps in recent days to help alleviate the situation. The authority has received a temporary emergency waiver from the Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the amount of water released from the dam, and it’s looking for a way to make that reduction permanent, Dupler said.

The authority also plans to reevaluate the water levels that trigger the restriction levels and conduct a water audit to establish amount of flow into Lake Chesdin and the amount of water taken out for treatment, released from the dam and evaporation, he said.

The ARWA board will have a public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. at Matoaca Elementary School to review the plan with concerned citizens, he said.

Restriction Details

The following restrictions, distributed Friday by the county, are also available online at www.chesterfield.gov/utilities.

  • Established landscaping (lawns, vegetable gardens, flowers, trees and shrubs) — All water use is prohibited.
  • New landscaping — All water use is prohibited.
  • Washing paved areas — All water use is prohibited.
  • Swimming pools — All water use is prohibited.
  • Vehicle washing — Prohibited, except at commercial car washes.
  • Golf courses — All water use is prohibited.
  • Businesses — Limit water usage to those essential for business and human hygiene.
  • Restaurants — Use water only for cooking, hygiene and beverages. 
  • All other consumption — Limit water to essential use only.

Any person found to be in violation of the above restrictions will be subject to the following fines, which will be imposed on the customer’s next water bill.

Amounts are:

  • First offense — $200
  • Second offense — $400
  • Third offense — $800
  • Fourth and each subsequent offense — $1,600

For more information, or to report a violation, call the Utilities Department at 748-1271.

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