City Water is Safe

Public Utilities Monitoring Coal Ash Release in the Roanoke River Basin

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The City of Virginia Beach recently learned of an incident in which coal ash was released into the Dan River. The Dan River is located upstream from Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston. Lake Gaston, along with several Norfolk-owned reservoirs, provides public water for the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  


Since learning of the contaminants in the Dan River, city officials have halted all pumping at the Virginia Beach Lake Gaston intake station until more information becomes available. The City’s water supply and quality have not been compromised.


“Because of the time that would be necessary for the contaminated water to travel down the Dan River, to Kerr Reservoir, then to Lake Gaston, and finally up into Pea Hill Creek, there is no conceivable way that anything released in the last few days or few weeks could have reached the Gaston intake” said Director of Public Utilities Thomas Leahy.


Leahy further indicated that water supply intakes on the Dan River and the headwaters of Kerr Reservoir are the immediate focus of attention. These intakes supply neighboring areas in the vicinity of the river and reservoir, not Virginia Beach.


At the time the incident was discovered, very little water was being pumped from Lake Gaston to Norfolk’s reservoirs. Norfolk’s reservoirs have been at nearly 100 percent capacity, and only small amounts of water were being pumped from Lake Gaston, largely to maintain water quality within the pipeline.  All pumping from Lake Gaston has now been discontinued until further notice. The Lake Gaston water supply is owned by Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  Lake Gaston water is pumped into Norfolk’s reservoirs where it mixes with Norfolk’s water and is ultimately supplied to Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.


The city is coordinating with Norfolk, Chesapeake, the Virginia Department of Health, North Carolina, and the Corps of Engineers (who owns and operates Kerr Reservoir).


For additional information, please contact Tom Leahy with the Department of Public Utilities at (757) 621-1322.