The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Culpeper water source low, but not critical
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Lake Pelham, Culpeper’s primary municipal water source, is a bit low but there is still plenty of water in Mountain Run Lake, the town’s backup reservoir.
A couple of good fall rains, however, would bring everything back to normal, officials say.
Evaporation caused by the intense heat of July and August has lowered the water level in Lake Pelham, which is shallower and has more area than its counterpart, but the situation is not close to being critical.
“Currently Lake Pelham is 18.5 inches below the spillway, which represents a Stage 1 drought level,” said Town Operations Manager Chris Hively. “Stage 1 is a trigger to mention the possibility of voluntary restrictions to the public per the adopted water restriction grid.”
Hively added that Lake Pelham dropped about 1.5 inches per week during August.
“At this rate we will reach Stage 2—24 inches below spillway—by the end of the month,” said Hively. The town would then ask for voluntary water restrictions. Stage 3, or 30 inches, would prompt mandatory restrictions.
With cooler weather, however, evaporation should slow and one good tropical rain system could bring the reservoir back to normal. Mountain Run Lake, which is located a mile upstream from Lake Pelham, is only two inches below the overflow valve, Hively said.
With an outlet valve 14 feet below water level, the town can always take water from the upper lake if the level in the lower one gets critical.
Culpeper has one of the best water supply systems in the area, and during the last severe drought the town sold water to Orange when its Rapidan River supply reached a critical stage.
Not knowing what the future holds, however, Hively is asking town customers not to be wasteful until the winter rains come.