The Appomattox River basin has been hit particularly hard by drought. The drought has affected much of the Midwest, as well as a significant amount of Virginia.
“The state has said that central Virginia is suffering the worse drought since 1969,” said James J.L. Stegmaier, Chesterfield County administrator. “And as a result we have seen some decline in our reservoirs, particularly in Lake Chesdin.”
Stegmaier said you see the results of it this summer but the drought goes back to the winter. The water level at Lake Chesdin is with one percent of historic low levels.
Severe drought in the Appomatox River basin has forced ARWA (Appomatox River Water Authority) and Chesterfield County to implement mandatory water restrictions, said Roy Covington director of the utilities for Chesterfield.
“We can all recall the record drought we experienced in 2010,” said Covington. “But the good news is, even the flows into Lake Chesdin have been drastically reduced from what they were in 2010, the conditions in the lake are better than they were at the same time [in 2010.]”
Covington said the ARWA board has taken action as to the timing of when it issues volunteer restrictions. The level of the lake that trips the restrictions is now a decrease in depth of 12 inches to get some sort of a jump on drought condition as we did this year. It was previously 24 inches.
Lake Chesdin supplies water to five localities, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie and Prince George Counties, and the City of Petersburg. Chesterfield uses 69.3 percent of the water from the lake and 66.5 million gallons per day (MGD) are treated for use in Chesterfield.
On August 24, the reservoir was measured 57 inches down from its normal level.
On August 8, DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) issued a drought watch and then up it to a drought warning on August 14. On August 24 mandatory water restrictions took affect.
Dr. Robert Witzer, the new ARWA director, is actively pursuing other water sources. He is also working with other local programs and an educational program to reduce water use .
To reduce the critical situation at the lake the Authority is reducing the amount of water released downstream. Changes in the formula reflect a need to balance what comes into the lake compared to what is released.