1963-70 Three large rural cities (Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk) are formed by mergers of former counties and small towns within those counties. The mergers block proposed annexations by Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Norfolk and Portsmouth have the only significant water systems in the region, however, these water systems do not originate within either city. Both cities had long ago developed reservoir and groundwater systems in Suffolk (when it was still a county). Norfolk had also developed a reservoir system in Virginia Beach (when it was still a county), and pump-overs from the Blackwater River in Isle of Wight County and the Nottoway River in Southampton County.
Norfolk and Portsmouth had been providing surplus water to portions of the former counties and the towns therein. They would now provide surplus water to the growing cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk. The groundwater withdrawals and the Chowan River Basin withdrawals (i.e., the Blackwater and Nottoway River pump-overs) impact North Carolina.
1970 The Southeastern Virginia Planning District Commission (SVPDC) projects the need for additional water in southeast Virginia, especially in the rapidly growing cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk.
1970-75 Water supply alternatives in the Roanoke, Chowan, and James River Basins are studied. The Southeastern Water Authority of Virginia (SWAV) is created. SWAV attempts to develop a reservoir on the Blackwater River but abandons the attempt in the face of opposition from North Carolina and lack of regional support. Congress directs the Corps of Engineers to undertake a Water Supply Study for Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1975 SWAV recommends Lake Gaston. North Carolina does not object.
1976 SWAV becomes the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) and attempts to implement a Lake Gaston project. The Corps begins the congressionally mandated Water Supply Study.
1976-78 Corps evaluates dozens (approximately 36) of water supply alternatives. North Carolina opposes the expansion of groundwater and Chowan River Basin supplies because of negative impacts to North Carolina. But it specifically states that it does not oppose the use of Lake Gaston. Drought strikes Tidewater. Norfolk and Virginia Beach restrict water use.
1978 The Draft Corps Water Supply Study recommends Lake Gaston. However, the federal rules and guidelines for water project evaluations are revised. The Corps is directed to redo all Water Supply Studies that are not final. Water becomes a political issue in the North Carolina gubernatorial race. North Carolina reverses its position on Lake Gaston and opposes all alternatives which involve any use of bi-state waters. Faced with opposition from North Carolina, a lack of regional support, and delays in the Corps Water Supply Study, SPSA abandons its efforts to implement a Lake Gaston project. With little progress at the federal, state or regional level, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk independently study/pursue alternatives to solve their own respective shortages.
1980 Drought strikes Tidewater. Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth restrict water use. Rationing and allocation instituted. Chesapeake brings on the Northwest River project. Norfolk attempts to drill additional groundwater wells in Suffolk. Suffolk objects and lawsuits are filed.
1981 Norfolk threatens to reduce water supply to Virginia Beach to 50% of normal supply. Norfolk also abandons efforts to expand its supplies on behalf of its surplus water customers. Virginia Beach accepts payment conditions established by Suffolk, Isle of Wight, and Southampton and drills 5 emergency groundwater wells.
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1982 Suffolk brings on the Lone Star Lakes project. SPSA recommends construction of the Assamoosick Swamp Reservoir.
Nov 1982 After 5 years of water resource investigations, Virginia Beach concludes, among other things, that the Assamoosick Swamp Reservoir will not survive the federal regulatory process. Virginia Beach selects Lake Gaston as the best alternative to the water shortage solution.
Dec 1982 The North Carolina-Virginia Bi-State Water Resources Committee is re-constituted. Discussions are held on resolving several bi-state water problems including groundwater declines, Chowan River Basin water quality, and water for southeast Virginia. Virginia Beach is a major participant.
Jan 1983 Intensive bi-state negotiations and discussions are conducted for eight months.
Jul 1983 Virginia Beach files an application with the Corps of Engineers for a permit to build the Lake Gaston Project.
Aug 1983 North Carolina and Virginia reach agreement on the Lake Gaston project and other bi-state water issues. However, before the agreement is finalized, water becomes a major issue in the campaigns for a hotly contested North Carolina U.S. Senate seat. North Carolina backs out of the accord. The Corps holds a public hearing on the Lake Gaston permit in Emporia, VA. North Carolina opposes the project.
Sep 1983 Norfolk releases a "Water Position Paper" which characterizes the regional water shortage as a Virginia Beach and Chesapeake water shortage. Norfolk concludes that it will not sell its water facilities to a regional authority and that it will not expand its water supplies on behalf of its surplus water customers. It does agree that it will lease its facilities for wheeling and treating raw water developed by others. The Corps releases a Draft Environmental Assessment which indicates that the Lake Gaston project will not have any significant impacts. North Carolina continues to oppose the project.
Nov 1983 The Corps holds two more public hearings on the Lake Gaston project permit in Roanoke Rapids, NC and Virginia Beach. North Carolina continues to oppose the project.
Dec 1983 The Corps releases a Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
Jan 1984 Corps of Engineers Permit is issued. North Carolina and RRBA file a lawsuit to invalidate Corps permit. Virginia Beach files two lawsuits of its own in an attempt to advance the project.
May 1984 In response to the 1975 mandate from Congress, The Corps finally releases the draft Water Supply Study and Environmental Impact Statement which also recommends Lake Gaston as the best alternative for water supply to southeast Virginia.
Aug 1984 Virginia Beach initiates Phase I, Concept Engineering for the project.
Dec 1984 The Corps releases the final Water Supply Study and Environmental Impact Statement for Hampton Roads, VA. The study determines that the Lake Gaston Project will not have any significant impact and is the most environmentally acceptable alternative of all the alternatives studied. However, because the study was released after the permit decision, Virginia Beach is not allowed to use it in the Corps permit litigation.
May 1985 Phase I, Concept Engineering completed.
Summer 1985 Chesapeake's Northwest River project and Suffolk's Lone Star Lakes project encounter supply problems.
Dec 1985 All Corps permit litigation consolidated in one lawsuit in Raleigh, North Carolina. Arguments on the merits of the lawsuit, which is now two years old, are initiated.
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Jan 1986 The Water Resource Recovery Fee, a connection fee on new homes to help fund the project, is instituted by Virginia Beach. The Tidewater Builders Association (TBA) objects to the size of the fee.
Summer 1986 Lack of rainfall impacts area municipal water systems. Norfolk and Virginia Beach institute water conservation programs. The Northwest River and Lone Star Lakes projects essentially fail and are taken off-line.
Aug 1986 TBA files a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Water Resource Recovery Fee.
Mar 1987 Virginia Beach initiates property acquisition and local consent activities for the Lake Gaston project.
Jul 1987 The Federal Court rules in favor of Virginia Beach and the Corps in 38 of 40 issues in the Corps permit litigation. The Court sends two issues back to the Corps for more study.
Aug 1987 Virginia Beach initiates Phase II, Preliminary Engineering for the Lake Gaston project. First of four water rate increases to fund the project are enacted.
Sep 1987 Southampton County grants local consent for the project.
Oct 1987 Virginia Beach initiates Phase III, Final Design Engineering for the Lake Gaston project.
Nov 1987 Partnership agreement signed with Chesapeake to share the Lake Gaston Project. Sussex County grants local consent for the project.
Dec 1987 Town of Jarratt and Isle of Wight County grant local consent for the project.
Jul 1988 Greensville County grants local consent for the project. Second of four water rate increases enacted.
Nov 1988 Mecklenberg County files lawsuit claiming the City needs its consent to build the project. A $200 million Bond Referendum to fund the project is passed in Virginia Beach by a 3 to 1 margin.
Dec 1988 The Corps of Engineers releases a supplemental (i.e, a second) Environmental Assessment dealing with the two issues remanded by the Court. The Corps finds no impact from the project and affirms the permit. North Carolina and RRBA continue to challenge Corps permit in Federal Court.
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Jan 1989 Brunswick County, where the intake is located, denies local consent to build the project.
Feb 1989 The General Assembly changes the local consent law making it unlikely that Brunswick County will be able to sustain its denial of local consent.
Mar 1989 Virginia Beach wins the condemnation suit; its right to condemn property for the project is affirmed. Virginia Beach files suit against Brunswick County to reverse the denial of local consent.
Spring 1989 Virginia Beach and Brunswick County enter into negotiations to resolve the conflict.
Jul 1989 The third of four water rate increases enacted.
Aug 1989 Court issues opinion in the Brunswick County litigation indicating that Virginia Beach will win the lawsuit. Virginia Beach and Brunswick County reach $3 million agreement.
Sep 1989 Brunswick County grants local consent and withdraws from all opposition to the project. The Brunswick County lawsuit is dismissed as moot.
Dec 1989 Virginia Beach wins the Water Resource Recovery Fee lawsuit.
Jan 1990 The Water Resource Recovery Fee lawsuit is appealed.
Feb 1990 Virginia Beach wins the Corps permit litigation; the Court resolves the remaining two (of 40) issues in favor of the Corps and Virginia Beach.
Apr 1990 North Carolina and RRBA appeal the Corps permit litigation to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jun 1990 Property acquisition completed. Engineering completed. The Virginia Beach City Council authorizes construction.
Jul 1990 Fourth water rate increase is enacted.
Sep 1990 1st construction contract awarded.
Nov 1990 2nd construction contract awarded. North Carolina and RRBA request an injunction against construction of the project until Virginia Beach obtains approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Dec 1990 The injunction is granted. Project construction is suspended until FERC approval is obtained.
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Jan 1991 Virginia Beach asks Court to modify the injunction to allow for critical path construction. This construction would account for about 5-10% of the total construction cost but 40% of the total construction time. The Court refuses to modify the injunction.
Feb 1991 Virginia Beach appeals the injunction ruling. Virginia Power and Virginia Beach file application to the FERC for approval of the project.
Mar 1991 North Carolina petitions the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for permission to review the FERC approval pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).
May 1991 NOAA grants North Carolina's request to review the project pursuant to the CZMA.
Jul 1991 Virginia Beach wins the appeal of the Corps permit litigation in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals; the validity of the Corps permit is affirmed.
Sep 1991 North Carolina formally objects to the FERC approval pursuant to the CZMA; unless the objection is overruled by the Department of Commerce, FERC would not be allowed to grant approval for the project.
Oct 1991 Virginia Beach and Virginia Power appeal North Carolina's CZMA objection to the Department of Commerce.
Nov 1991 North Carolina petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the Corps permit litigation.
Dec 1991 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals modifies the construction injunction to allow construction of critical path projects. Virginia Beach awards two construction contracts.
Jan 1992 FERC notifies Virginia Beach and Virginia Power that further action on the application for FERC approval is suspended pending resolution of the CZMA issue.
Feb 1992 U.S. Supreme Court rejects North Carolina's petition to appeal the Corps permit litigation; the Corps permit litigation is concluded.
May 1992 Construction of the critical path projects is initiated.
Jun 1992 The Department of Commerce conducts a public hearing on the CZMA appeal. The North Carolina Striped Bass Study is released recommending a moratorium on new water withdrawals from the Roanoke River Basin.
Dec 1992 Relying upon a long-standing position of the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce rules that the CZMA does not allow for interstate review, therefore, the Lake Gaston project is not subject to North Carolina's CZMA objection. The Corps of Engineers dismisses the North Carolina Striped Bass Study as inconsistent and unsubstantiated. The Corps refuses to suspend or modify Virginia Beach's Corps permit in response to the study.
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Jan 1993 FERC resumes processing the application for FERC approval.
Feb 1993 North Carolina asks the new Secretary of Commerce to reverse the December 1992 decision of the previous Secretary.
Apr 1993 The Department of Commerce asks the Department of Justice to review its prior position on the CZMA to see if it has changed.
Jun 1993 The Department of Justice reaffirms its position that the CZMA does not provide for inter-state review of projects.
Jul 1993 The Department of Commerce affirms its prior CZMA decision. FERC releases a draft Environmental Assessment indicating that the project will have no significant impact on the environment. Virginia Beach and Norfolk sign a long-term water services contract for treating and transporting Lake Gaston water.
Sep 1993 North Carolina files a lawsuit challenging the Department of Commerce decision that the CZMA does not allow for interstate objections.
Oct 1993 Virginia Beach intervenes in the CZMA lawsuit on behalf of Department of Commerce.
Nov 1993 The Commonwealth of Virginia moves to intervene in the CZMA lawsuit on behalf of the Department of Commerce.
Dec 1993 The Department of Justice reverses its position that the CZMA does not provide for inter-state review. The Department of Commerce immediately follows suit. Both North Carolina's CZMA objection and the appeal of that objection are reinstated. North Carolina's CZMA lawsuit is dismissed as moot. Virginia Beach files its own CZMA lawsuit challenging the reversal by the Department of Commerce.
May 1994 The Department of Commerce overrules North Carolina's CZMA objection; FERC is now free to grant approval for the project. On the same day, the Environmental Protection Agency reverses a ten-year position that the project would have no significant impact and calls on the FERC to conduct more studies before approving the project.
Jun 1994 The FERC releases a Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) which indicates that the project would not have any significant impacts. However, the study also indicates that much of the supporting data had become old during the lengthy regulatory process. Therefore, FERC would prepare an up-to-date Environmental Impact Statement.
Jul 1994 Virginia Beach petitions the State Corporation Commission for permission to condemn the necessary property rights in Lake Gaston. If upheld, this would allow Virginia Beach to bypass the FERC proceeding. Virginia Beach's CZMA lawsuit is dismissed as moot. North Carolina files its own CZMA lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Commerce decision. Virginia Beach intervenes in that suit.
Aug 1994 Virginia Beach files a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Court to order the FERC to grant approval of the project immediately.
Sep 1994 The federal court hearing North Carolina's CZMA lawsuit offers the parties court sponsored mediation. Virginia Beach and North Carolina agree to voluntary mediation in an effort to resolve the entire dispute between the two parties, not just the CZMA lawsuit.
Nov 1994 The State Corporation Commission (SCC) grants Virginia Beach permission to condemn property rights in Lake Gaston under state law, theoretically eliminating the need for FERC approval. Virginia Beach seeks to have the construction injunction lifted or modified on the grounds that it can now condemn the property rights in Lake Gaston and no longer needs FERC approval.
Dec 1994 After the FERC promises the Court that it will expedite the Virginia Beach application, the Fourth Circuit Court rejects Virginia Beach's petition to force the FERC to act immediately. However, the Court warns FERC against further delays. Mediation begins.
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Jan 1995 FERC issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement which indicates that the project would have no significant impacts. Mediation intensifies after the FERC DEIS is released.
Mar 1995 Court denies Virginia Beach's request to lift or modify the injunction stating that federal law trumped state law. Virginia Beach appeals to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Apr 1995 North Carolina and Virginia Beach execute a Settlement Agreement ending the hostilities between them. However, in order to become effective, the settlement agreement requires actions of third parties, most notably, Norfolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
May 1995 Virginia Beach and Norfolk are unable to agree upon terms and equities with respect to Norfolk's obligations in the Settlement Agreement. Southside Virginia mobilizes to fight the Settlement Agreement.
Jun 1995 After intensive negotiations and significant concessions by all parties, but in particular Virginia Beach, a new Settlement Agreement acceptable to most of the major stake holders is reached. However, the Settlement Agreement does not become effective because Governor Allen and the leadership of the General Assembly can not agree upon the terms and conditions of a special session needed to ratify the agreement. Partisan political friction unrelated to the project is the principal cause.
Jul 1995 Virginia Beach offers North Carolina a Settlement Agreement that does not include any third party contingencies. It is rejected by North Carolina. FERC issues a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Order approving Lake Gaston project.
Aug 1995 North Carolina asks FERC to reconsider and/or stay its approval pending additional litigation.
Sept 1995 FERC denies North Carolina's request to rehear and stay its approval. North Carolina appeals FERC's decision to the DC Court of Appeals. North Carolina looses the CZMA lawsuit. The construction injunction dissolves but the issue of whether Virginia Beach can condemn the rights in Lake Gaston without FERC approval is preserved and held in abeyance.
Oct 1995 Virginia Beach awards construction contracts for the remainder of the project.
Nov 1995 North Carolina introduces special legislation in Congress attempting to block the project or force Virginia Beach back to the bargaining table. Virginia congressional legislators block the legislation.
Dec 1995 Construction contracts are executed.
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May 1996 Norfolk releases a Safe Yield Study commissioned by its City Attorney. The study mimics certain strategies used by North Carolina and others in opposing the Lake Gaston project over the years. The project opponents seize upon the study and incorporate it into their lawsuit challenging the FERC approval.
Sep 1996 The DC Court of Appeals remands the case to FERC for 60 days to rule on North Carolina's claim that it, not Virginia, has the right to block the project pursuant to the Clean Water Act.
Oct 1996 The EPA sends a letter to FERC siding with North Carolina on the Clean Water Act issue.
Nov 1996 FERC rules that North Carolina and the EPA have misconstrued the Clean Water Act. FERC rules that 1) the withdrawal of water is not a discharge under the Clean Water Act, and 2) even if it was, it originates in Virginia which means that only Virginia has the right to block the project under the Clean Water Act. North Carolina and the RRBA continue to challenge the FERC ruling in the DC Appellate Court.
Dec 1996 Pipeline construction is 85% complete. Pump station and pressure control structures are 60% complete. Total project construction is 80% complete.
Feb 1997 The Richmond Circuit Court dismisses a lawsuit brought by several state legislators, a lake association for a lake in the upper reaches of the Roanoke River Basin, and several land owners claiming to have riparian rights in Kerr and/or Gaston. The plaintiffs had alleged that the Lake Gaston Project violated their riparian rights and that a law enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1992, which allocated 60 mgd of Virginia's share of the waters of the Roanoke River Basin to south Hampton Roads for water supply purposes, was unconstitutional. The Court rules that the legislators and the lake association did not have standing to file suit, and that the land owners had not demonstrated that they had riparian rights.
May 1997 Order and Memorandum Opinion of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The Court upholds the FERC decision and approval. This brings the total number of agency and judicial reviews that have approved the project to eleven (six environmental reviews by three independent federal agencies and five lawsuits in four different federal courts).
Aug 1997 Order of the Federal Appellate Court for the District of Columbia Circuit denying rehearing. In response to North Carolina and RRBA's request for rehearing, the Court voted 8-2 to deny rehearing.
Aug 1997 On August 5, 1997, the City begins filling the Lake Gaston Pipeline with water. On August 20, 1997, water begins flowing from the terminus structure into existing raw water reservoirs.
Nov 1997 All construction on the project is substantially complete. A dedication ceremony is held on November 7, 1997.
Jan 1998 The project is put into formal service on January 1, 1998.
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