Appomattox River Water Authority Interested In Sandy River Reservoir

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – The Appomattox River Water Authority is interested in the Sandy River Reservoir.

County officials met (according to a report in the Board of Supervisors February 12 board packet) the executive director of the authority and the director of the Department of Utilities for Chesterfield County.

“At the request of the Appomattox River Authority the chairman and vice chairman of the board of supervisors and the county administrator met with the Executive Director of the Authority Robert Wichser and Roy Covington, director of utilities for Chesterfield County,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett detailed in the report to the board. “The Authority is looking at all available sources of water which could be used as a supply during emergency situations. The authority is interested in studying the release of water from Sandy River Reservoir and if such a release would be beneficial to the Authority. The Authority is interested in studying two test releases of between 30 and 50 million gallons of water per day to determine the impact on Lake Chesdin.”

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The Authority serves, at least in part, Chesterfield, Prince George, Dinwiddie, and provides water to Colonial Heights and the City of Petersburg.

“The board members informed the authority representatives they would need to develop models estimating the impact on the reservoir,” the board report further detailed. “Once these models were complete the authority could then return and make a presentation to the board of supervisors, and the full board would make a decision to allow the test releases or not.”

Prince Edward has long looked to the reservoir as a water source to serve its own community and its costs, but supervisors have not agreed upon any concrete plans. Specifically, the County studied a water system to serve an area south of Farmville and potential customers in Crewe and Burkeville and even plans for a shared water and sewer authority with the Town of Farmville in recent years.

Much work has previously gone into studying a public water system. And Prince Edward's withdrawal permit extends to 2021 for a withdrawal for potable water.

“…Basically, that's what they came down here for is to see if we'd be willing to participate in any test releases,” Bartlett also told The Herald of the Tuesday meeting. “You see, they don't know if the Sandy River Reservoir would help them or not and what these test releases would do would test the ability of any release to make it all the way down the river to go into Lake Chesdin. How much would evaporate, how much would be absorbed in the stream channel, etcetera, etcetera, to see if it'd be worthwhile.”

Their engineers would have to perform some modeling to look at the impact on the reservoir, how far it would fall, if any.

From the discussions, Bartlett also offered, he thinks they're looking at two different types-one after a rain event, where it may not be that big but enough that there's more water, an increase already in the Appomattox. The other, he thinks, would be just during a normal flow period.

“The question's gonna be for the board: are they willing to allow these test release(s) if this is not obligating you to do anything else other than that,” he said. “That's all that was talked about at that meeting was about the test releases. Nothing about a long-term contract or anything else. That would be down the road because, of course, the Appomattox River Authority didn't want to enter into anything if it wasn't going to meet their needs and solve their problem. So, first you have to do the test to determine that.”

That's all that's being talked about at this time, Bartlett said.

It was relayed, he also cited, that the water has value.

Still, they may not need the water and it may prove unfeasible.

The Authority has been in contact with DEQ, Bartlett cited. “And what they will have to do is get any permit releases if such is needed from DEQ…and DEQ is gonna look at our permit to see what it says, if it allows such a thing.”

At first blush, Bartlett said he did not see anything restricting the maximum amount of water release in their withdrawal permit, though he noted there may be something else in another document DEQ has “that controls or has some controls on the release so you don't flood something. There very well may be, but that's not in our withdrawal permit.”

Bartlett would also offer that he didn't think they were going to release so much water that it would cause as big an impact as even a normal rain event would have.

A 50 million gallon release was estimated at about 1.56 percent.

“So I don't see that as…being a big problem, but you never know,” he said. “But…we have to look at all that.”

While it sounds like a lot of water, Bartlett noted there's a lot of water there. The Sandy River Reservoir contains about 3.2 billion gallons of storage and already has a minimum release of water (which fluctuates) that goes to the water basin. (The normal release minimum between July and September, for example, translates into about 5.2 million gallons per day.)