At this time of year residential water use begins to wane. Cooler weather, shorter days require less water on lawns and gardens. Yet, the Lake Chesdin reservoir, even with a fair amount of rain recently, remains 27 inches below its typical water level, even though better than the late August low of minus 56 inches. But even 56 inches down pales in comparison to 2010 when Lake Chesdin was 138 inches below normal.
The Appomattox River Water Authority (ARWA) monitors the Lake Chesdin reservoir and treats the water so residents and businesses can safely consume the water. The ARWA board, made up of representatives from five jurisdictions served by the ARWA, makes the call on when to recommend volunteer, mandatory or emergency water restrictions. The ARWA and Lake Chesdin serves the southern area of Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Prince George Counties and the City of Petersburg.
“Until the trees lose their leaves and reducing evaporation as the days become shorter, the reservoir level will remain low,” said ARWA Executive Director Robert C. Wichser, who supervises the day to day operation of the reservoir. “The watershed that supplies Chesdin reaches as far as Farmville and includes 133,000 square miles.”
According to Wichser, it will take a tropical rain-event that will dump about four inches of rain on the watershed to restore the reservoir to normal levels.
Water restrictions affected the entire county. George Hayes, assistant director of Chesterfield’s utility department, said that in some cases, restrictions can be lifted in November, but it remains undecided until ARWA meets. On October 18, the board, which controls water restrictions and other reservoir concerns, will meet to discuss and decide on whether mandatory water restriction should remain in place.
There are three levels of restrictions: voluntary restrictions, mandatory restrictions and emergency restrictions. Emergency level restrictions go into effect when there are only 200 days of drinking water left in the reservoir.
The ARWA has also improved its water release policy. Water that is allowed to be released at the dam has been changed since 2010. Although Chesterfield suffered quite a drought this year, the county reached only mandatory restrictions.
“We typically top-out levels at the lake in April,” Hayes said, indicating the worst would be over in November. “We would like to thank our customers for their conservation efforts. We had vast numbers of people complying with the restrictions.”