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  • January 01, 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Rick Hoyle and Rick Nehrboss – January 2024

    In June, 2023, the Lake Anna Civic Association (LACA) sent out 1120 invitations to LACA membership to complete the 2023 LACA Survey.  Thanks to the 573 members who replied to our recent membership survey!  Twenty-three of the invitations never reached the intended member because of invalid or expired email addresses in our membership database.

    This year we were up from the 504 responses received in the 2021 survey.  The results were summarized and presented at the LACA Annual Meeting.  Unfortunately, many of our members missed the meeting so we wanted to provide a summary of the results.

    Eighty-six percent (86%) of the survey respondents have property or have visited the lake for more than 5 years, so are very familiar with Lake Anna.  This suggests that LACA membership opinions on important concerns for the lake and the direction that LACA should be taking are well informed and are invested in the LACA mission to preserve and protect the cleanliness, beauty, and safe use of Lake Anna and its watershed.

    LACA leadership apologizes for the length of the survey.  Clearly it was too long for some members as the number of questions skipped by members grew as the survey progressed.  The first 9 questions were only skipped by an average of 22 respondents.  After that each question was skipped by at least 100 respondents with the average being around 150.  LACA leadership is looking at options to have more frequent yet more focused, shorter surveys to increase participation of our membership.

    The Board of Directors and the committee leaders are creating an Action Plan based upon the survey results.  Each question has been assigned to a Committee Lead or a board member to review, analyze and summarize the results and recommend specific actions with a suggested implementation date.

    The Board will review all the actions for approval and implementation and monitor progress at our monthly meetings.  You can expect to hear from committee leads soon if not already in reaction to survey responses.  Again, membership feedback is extremely valuable and we are determined to consider your suggestions! Thanks again to those who completed our survey!

    The survey was organized mostly around LACA committees which lead the major LACA initiatives.  In this issue, we focus on the responses to the questions related to Water Quality, which were the first 9 questions in the survey and clearly captured the most responses.  In future newsletters, we will discuss the responses to questions in other areas.

    When it comes to Water Quality, many of our respondents (66%) reported that algae/cyanobacteria/HABs have been an issue for the area they most frequently visit at Lake Anna. Fifty-two of our respondents are aware of people or pets that they suspect were made ill as a result of being in or around the water when a recreational advisory was in effect.  Three quarters of respondents want to support the all-volunteer Water Quality committee and its activities.  The Water Quality committee leadership has already reached out to these respondents.  As only 4 respondents did not support the use of county tax dollars to support LACA’s Water Quality Monitoring Program, LACA will still lobby the counties surrounding the lake to continue or increase the current funding levels provided so far. 

    The Lake Anna Advisory Committee's efforts to control hydrilla is also strongly supported by the respondents (97%) with 92% supporting the use of Sterile carp, and 81% supporting the use of herbicides.   The survey also indicated that most of the respondents (92%) supported LACA’s hiring a Richmond law firm specializing in Virginia legislative affairs for $50,000 to persuade the legislature to provide $1 Million for remediation and mitigation of HAB specifically on Lake Anna.  At the time the survey was released, the results of LACA’s efforts were not known.  In October, 2023, this $1 Million was approved and LACA has been working with the local county governments on how to best manage and apply the funding assigned to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

    Stay tuned to future newsletters where we will share the responses to questions regarding the Environmental Preservation, Emergency Services and other LACA committees.

    rick.hoyle@lakeannavirginia.org

    rick.nehrboss@lakeannavirginia.org


  • January 01, 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By John Wayne – January 2024

    2024 Brings Operational Requirements for Louisa County.  What does this mean for those who rent their houses and those who live around them?

    I requested information from Louisa County that I could use to create a practical guide for operating and managing issues under the STR ordinance passed in 2023. The ordinance passed with an effective date of January 1, 2024, and I expect there are those who rent their homes that may not have gotten word and/or have not yet taken steps to comply with the ordinance.  I also wanted to understand, given the restrictions contained in the new ordinance, how citizens who experience violations of the ordinance are to handle those with the County. I want to thank Cindy King, Community Engagement Manager for Louisa County, who was very helpful in responding to my questions and in fact provided me with what I believe to be a succinct guide to how renters and neighbors can manage under the new ordinance.  What follows is her response:

    Short-term rentals (STRs) offer the area numerous tourism-related benefits, but as the number of these rentals have grown around Lake Anna, so has concern from neighboring property owners. Following a great deal of citizen input, the formation of a county-led stakeholder workgroup, and public hearings, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance this past October intended to minimally impact responsible STR owners while increasing visitor safety and guarding community interests.

    While not all STRs in Louisa County are affected by this new ordinance, the majority of waterfront rentals and rentals in waterfront communities will be required to follow new regulations. This set of regulations, effective January 1, 2024, are as follows:

    • Owner Contact Information: Must provide contact details of the owner/property manager to Louisa County and any subdivision governing body if present.

    How to satisfy this requirement: Existing STR owners most likely have already completed registration through the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. For new owners or STR operators needing to register, they may complete the “Transient Occupancy Tax Contact Information Form” by January 1, 2024. STR owners will also need to provide contact information to any applicable HOAs/POAs. This registration allows for contact information to easily be retrieved, including in the event of an emergency.

    • Local Code Information: Required to provide the current Louisa County Code chapters related to Noise (51) and Solid Waste (62) and definitions for Special Occasion Facilities and Gatherings in rental contracts.

    How to satisfy this requirement: STR owners may link to this information on the county website from their rental agreements or include copies in their rental agreements executed on and after January 1, 2024. This requirement ensures the tenants have been given notice of how to handle noise and solid waste during their stay.

    • Prohibition of Certain Uses: Owners must inform tenants that events, rentals, Special Occasion Facilities, and related uses are banned unless a valid CUP is obtained.

    How to satisfy this requirement: This notification may be included in the rental agreement or in a confirmation message regarding the rental. These notifications apply to rentals on or after January 1, 2024. This requirement will help prevent unauthorized special occasion facilities.

    • Health and Safety Compliance: Adherence to Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regulations and all applicable state building code and safety regulations is mandatory.

    How to satisfy this requirement: To maintain safety for tenants and the community, short-term rental (STR) owners must check their permits with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and follow all stated requirements. All VDH permit regulations need to be met by January 1, 2024. Additionally, all buildings must meet the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) standards. The Community Development issues a Certificate of Occupancy for each property, and all properties must comply with these certificates by January 1, 2024.

    • Conditional Use Permit Necessity: Owners failing to meet these requirements must obtain a CUP from the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to operate an STR.

    How to satisfy this requirement: STR owners that cannot meet the above requirements by January 1, 2024 should contact the Community Development department about a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

    STR operators can find additional information on the county’s website, louisacounty.gov.

    For residents concerned about neighboring STR properties that may not comply with these new requirements, the ordinance and standard county processes do provide reporting options. Any neighbor who feels one or more of these restrictions are not being addressed (building code violations, safe occupancy per VDH, event rentals, etc.), may report a potential code violation through the “Report an Issue” feature on louisacounty.gov or contact the Community Development department. The Report an Issue, Report a Potential Code Violation form will allow the submitting party to receive updates. This section of the website also offers a link to submit an issue anonymously, however as submissions through that option are anonymous, updates cannot be provided. The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office may be called for noise complaints.  

    LACA has put this information up on our Website under Programs/Land Use/STR so that the links provided by the County will be active, allowing you to go directly to the forms and additional information highlighted and referenced in the text.  Please visit our website at https://lakeannavirginia.org to access this information.

    john.wayne@lakeannavirginia.org


  • January 01, 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Gary Cochard – January 2024

    For many years, I’ve enjoyed watching this magnificent bird nearly every day throughout the summer.  We’ve all seen them walking the shoreline of Lake Anna or flying from one boathouse to another.  But what do we know about the bird itself?

    Well, here are a few facts I collected from the internet to help us better understand and appreciate this majestic creature.

    First, the great blue heron is found throughout North America. It thrives in Canada, the United States and Mexico, allowing millions to enjoy watching this graceful bird.

    The blue heron is basically a solitary hunter.  They prefer to hunt alone but when mating/breeding they nest in colonies (called a heronry) that can include several hundred stick nests.  They usually build their nest in trees high above the ground, but can occasionally be found nesting on the ground, on duck blinds or even on channel markers.  The male normally picks the nesting sight, with the female doing most of the construction work as the male brings a variety of building materials to the nest. 

    The female will lay 3 to 6 eggs (a clutch) with both parents then sharing in the incubation and other parental duties.  The young birds hatch in about a month and then fledge 49-80 days later.  According to my research, only 1 or 2 from the clutch will survive those early days due to either predation, starvation, heavy rain or cold weather.  These factors combined often take a heavy toll on the newly hatched chicks.  The blue heron does NOT mate for life and the life span is about 15 years.

    The diet of the great blue heron consists of many things.  They will eat anything they can catch, though fish is the mainstay.  However, frogs, insects and small rodents are also ingested if they happen to come within striking range. They are lethal hunters with a very quick strike using their powerful neck and strong beak to attack their prey. They eat about a pound of fish each day supplemented by those previously mentioned menu items.  Even an occasional snake may fall victim to the deadly beak.  Though uncommon, they have been recorded ingesting fish as large as 8 - 12 inches in length.  They swallow all fish head-first, whole and alive.  Gulp!!

    All great hunters must also be aware of those who prey upon them.  Eagles occasionally attack the adult blue heron, with crows, ravens, gulls and other birds of prey going after the eggs and the young chicks.  Other than the eagle, adults have few predators, mostly because of their size and the lack of large predators in North America.

    Lastly, we might wonder why we don’t see many during the winter months.  Well, the answer is simple.  Most migrate, but not all.  Generally, in the winter the blue heron will move away from the northern edge of their breeding range.  Some fly as far south as the Caribbean.  But some choose to stay put and can survive despite the cold weather.  If there’s open water, they continue mainly with the fish diet.  But if things get tough, they forge on anything they can find that is alive.  Blue herons only eat “live” food.  We’ll likely not see too many stalking the shoreline during our winter, but rest assured come spring; this majestic bird will return in great numbers to again take up their place along the banks of Lake Anna.

    There is much more one can learn about this beautiful bird.  I hope this article has whet your appetite to do just that.  Regardless, be on the lookout for the return migration of one of Lake Anna’s beautiful treasures.

    gary.cochard@lakeannavirginia.org


  • November 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mark Debord – November 2023

    Lake Anna is blessed with an abundant variety of native plant species. These plants are an important part of our lake ecosystem.  They provide food and cover for pollinators, fish, waterfowl and aquatic invertebrate species.  As important, they absorb nutrients that could otherwise feed harmful algae blooms (HABs).

    American Water Willow (justicia americana) is one of the more common and noticeable of these aquatic plant species.  It’s native to the area and common throughout Virginia.  It usually grows in shallow water from a few inches to 1-2 feet deep.  Stems can grow from 1-3 feet above water.

    Water Willow is a perennial plant.  It blooms from early Summer to early Fall.  The blooms are usually white but will often have purple markings as well.  The blooms attract a number of pollinators, especially native bees.  Some of the smaller bugs will in turn attract dragonflies, an important natural mosquito predator.

    In addition to seed dispersal, Water Willow spreads by rhizomes (through its underground root system).  This is why you will often see Water Willow in colonies rather than stand-alone plants.  Left undisturbed, these colonies can grow quite large.

    Water Willow is sometimes mistaken for invasive weeds. However, given its widespread distribution around the lake, Water Willow is an important part of our efforts to reduce the nutrient load in the lake and thus reduce the HAB incidence.  We want to encourage Water Willow growth where possible but recognize that it can interfere with access to docks or swimming areas.  Before removing any Water Willow, make sure you are following Dominion’s requirements concerning aquatic vegetation.  Lake Anna Reservoir and WHTF Vegetation Management & Herbicide/Pesticide Treatment Policy (azureedge.net)

    Below are some resources if you want to learn more about this valuable native plant.  If you have any questions, please contact Mark DeBord (mark.debord@lakeannavirginia.org) or Lara Weatherholtz (lara.weatherholtz@lakeannavirginia.org)

    American Water Willow (usda.gov)

    American Water-Willow (Justicia americana) · iNaturalist

    mark.debord@lakeannavirginia.org



  • November 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Al Bennett – November 2023

    This article is a reprint of an article that was first published in October 2018.  It is a seasonal reminder that blowing leaves into the Lake is not a good practice.  As homeowners, it is difficult for us to control the amount of nutrients that enter our lake from upstream sources; however, as residents we can control what enters the lake from our respective properties.

    Blowing leaves into the lake is not recommended.  Although not illegal, it is a form of littering that is discourteous to neighbors and it is harmful to the lake’s ecosystem.

    Leaves blown into the lake rarely settle at the shoreline of origin.  They are carried by wind and current to other locations before they reach bottom.  In coves, it is usually the few lots at the back of the cove that receive the leaf debris.  They are unsightly and over time, sedimentation buildup will cause these owners to lose water depth and will leave them with a squishy bottom.

    Decaying leaves release nutrients, primarily carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.  These nutrients are great for soil but excess nutrients are a pollutant to lakes like ours.  These nutrients, especially phosphorous, are a fertilizer for hydrilla and algae, promoting their growth.  As hydrilla growth spreads, herbicides and/or carp are then needed to control its growth. 

    Similarly, excessive nutrient levels can contribute to low dissolved oxygen levels by causing abundant growths of phytoplankton (microscopic plants and algae) called blooms. Living phytoplankton may deplete oxygen levels during the night and as the phytoplankton die, decomposition of the organic material by bacteria consumes oxygen.

    Let’s all be good neighbors and good stewards of our lake’s ecosystem by not blowing leaves into the lake.  Instead, please consider collecting and finely mulching your leaves and then spreading them across your yard so that their nutrients can be returned to your soil.

    alan.bennett@lakeannavirginia.org


  • November 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Maureen Daniels – November 2023

    Here’s why. . .

    At LACA’s annual meeting in July, Chris Lee was awarded the prestigious Jack Bertron Award.  Jack was a highly respected past President of LACA and every year the Association identifies an individual who exemplifies his same commendable qualities of commitment and service to the community.

    Chris is the model of public service - kind, patient, tireless, dedicated and very generous with his time.

    Chris has been a valued member of LACA’s Safety & Emergency Services Committee for the past 13 years.  When he first joined the Committee he was Deputy Director of 911 Communications in Louisa County, and more recently, he is serving as Lieutenant of the Logistical Section for Louisa Fire, Rescue and EMS.

    The S&EMS Committee has been meeting since 2010.  The group is composed of members of law enforcement from Louisa and Spotsylvania Counties, the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR, Conservation Police); Fire, Rescue and EMS from Spotsylvania and Louisa; US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Lake Anna; the Lake Anna State Park, the Louisa and Spotsylvania 911 Emergency Call Centers and TOWBoat,US.

    The goal of the Safety & Emergency Services Committee has been to identify ways to make Lake Anna a safer place for all its users.  One of the first initiatives was to address the frustration of 911 operators trying to determine the location of a boater in distress on the lake.  It was common for the 911 call takers to hear - “I see trees”, “I am near a dock”, “there is an island”. . .

    What emerged from the Committee was the LKA 911 locator map, which is designed for boaters who come here, as well as boaters who live here, to use in the event of an incident on the water.  911 Operators in Louisa and Spotsy use these 911 maps as a common reference so a person in distress can look at the map and 911 can prompt them to determine their location.  

    As Deputy Director of Communications, Chris Lee was key to working with both Louisa and Spotsylvania 911 personnel to make sure this safety initiative could work to improve response time to boaters in trouble.  Improvements continue to be made to make sure the 911 maps remain an effective tool in ensuring prompt emergency response.

    The second safety initiative from the group capitalized on using Lake Anna docks and Dominion’s islands as additional location markers for emergency purposes.  The S&EMS Committee proposed installing yellow and black 911 location markers that would be visible to boaters on docks, islands and in common areas.

    Today, there are almost 800 911 location signs on Lake Anna to assist boaters in distress.  Louisa and Spotsylvania 911 operators are trained to ask callers on the water if they can see a 911 marker.  That marker is linked to the street address and/or by GPS coordinates to facilitate a prompt response.  And again, it is thanks to Chris Lee who has verified every application to ensure an accurate address before entering that location into the 911 CAD systems in Louisa, Spotsylvania and Orange.

    The obvious benefit to this safety initiative is the more exact the location of an emergency, the more efficient the response, the more positive the outcome.

    LACA is grateful to all our Lake Anna neighbors who have already posted 911 signs on their dock and/or common areas - and to those who are considering it; to Dominion Energy for allowing us to use their islands as additional 911 locations, and to Christina Brining, LKA Signs in Mineral, who has fabricated and mailed every 911 sign to the applicants.

    Well done, Lake Anna!

    mo.daniels@lakeannavirginia.org


  • September 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By John Wayne – September 2023

    The County is again working to put some form of ordinance in place to get a handle on Short Term Rentals (STR) in Louisa County. In the latest Lake Anna Civic Association (LACA) survey of our members, over 90% of respondents indicated that they support LACA working with local governments to implement ordinances to limit STRs to the capacity permitted in the VDH septic permit, and in the same survey by the same margin of support, LACA’s position to limit bedrooms in STRs only to those having proper egress along with appropriate safety equipment. LACA is on record as not opposing Short Term Rentals but desiring these stated practical limits for environmental and safety reasons.

    The most recent conversations among the Commissioners have ranged from some suggesting that it should be the responsibility of HOAs and POAs to limit the practice in their neighborhoods, to discussions surrounding whether STR’s are legal to operate in R1 and R2 zoning under the current county code. I picked up on this last point with the Chairman of the Planning Commission, John Disosway.

    Mr. Disosway explained to me that the current county code does not specifically address Short Term Rentals. This is because in Section 86-13, “Definitions”, of the Louisa County code there is a use called “short term tourist rental of dwelling” defined as “The rental of a dwelling for periods of 30 days or less”. Interestingly however, this specific use is not mentioned further in the code or used in the Use Matrix Table, Section 86-109, which defines what uses are permitted within each zoning designation, including R1 and R2 which constitutes most neighborhoods around the lake. He stated that “this is part of the confusion” and that “the proposed ordinance change attempts to resolve this by clarifying a short-term rental use and clearly specifying how it is allowed in zoning districts.”

    This being true, it is an important detail as STR’s are not currently a by-right use of a house in a residential (R1 and R2) neighborhood in Louisa County. Further, it seems likely that if the “short term tourist rental of dwelling” were added to the Use Matrix Table as defined, it would be considered a commercial usage for R1 and R2, much like the “Bed and Breakfast” usage which is included in the commercial section of the Use Matrix Table, requiring a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).  How commercial uses are handled in the current code is particularly important and should guide the conversation and outcome going forward. The situation should encourage the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to fix this issue in the code by creating an ordinance that makes it legal. However, the ordinance must also stay true to the code and either require a CUP for this usage or implement limits on usage of houses in neighborhoods to occupancies that are compatible with R1 and R2 expected use. This can be accomplished by using what is already there, State defined occupancy levels that meet current building codes and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) septic system permitting levels.

    One thing we know from experience is that when there is an issue with an STR in a neighborhood, more times than not it occurs when the house is grossly over occupied. The benefits of the suggested approach are multifold for all in the surrounding community, reducing the negative effects of overused septic systems, providing a safe environment for all who visit and spend the night in our County, and lessening the noise and waste created by large parties occupying a home in a residential neighborhood.

    Adding STR’s as a legal use in R1 and R2 neighborhoods is a valid objective of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors but should only be accomplished with occupancy limits that protect citizens safety and the environment, while also keeping neighborhoods residential, as clearly intended in the current county code. If this common-sense approach cannot be agreed to by the Board, the answer should be to simply stick with and enforce the current code excluding this commercial endeavor in county residential neighborhoods altogether.

    The Planning Commission has set a Public Hearing Date for September 14 at 7:00 pm. I encourage you to attend the meeting and let your opinion on this important issue be known to your elected and appointed officials.

    john.wayne@lakeannavirginia.org


  • September 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Irene Luck – September 2023

    The 2023 version of the Lake Anna fireworks display is in the books and once again the spectacular show received tremendous support from the community.  This year, nearly 425 donors contributed just over $37,000, allowing LACA to produce one of the best fireworks displays in Central Virginia right here at Lake Anna.

    The show is choreographed by Zambelli International, who has handled the shoot since its inception 30 years ago as a celebration of Lake Anna’s 20th anniversary.  That shoot was held in September spearheaded by the group of volunteers who pooled their skills to mark the 20th anniversary and was also paid for by donations. 

    After the original shoot, LACA became the organization responsible for the shoot and the civic organization has continued the tradition for three decades, using only donated funds to support the display.

    Each May solicitation letters are mailed to residents, businesses and homeowner associations around the lake, with many of them supporting the efforts.

    The LACA board of directors expresses its heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous support the community gives to the organization’s various programs, including the fireworks show. 

    Next year’s shoot is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 6.

    irene.luck@lakeannavirginia.org


  • September 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Rick Nehrboss – September 2023

    On April 21st, LACA hosted our very first meeting of the President's Council (PC).  This meeting was a long time coming and a culmination of a year long effort to formalize the Council and identify members.  We were very excited to host this new group, and despite not hosting a zoom meeting, we had 37 people attend.  We believe a major benefit of hosting an in-person meeting was providing an opportunity for the attendees to get to know each other and that was consistent with the feedback we received from the Council membership in attendance.

    The topic we chose for the very first meeting was short-term rentals (STRs) based on feedback from PC members.  Greg Baker, the LACA President, started the meeting with a presentation on the environmental and safety concerns of STRs advertised and rented at overcapacity.  He also shared several examples of STRs with failed drain fields.  We invited Jake Lane from Spotsylvania County and Willie Gentry from Louisa County to share their efforts on any STR initiatives being considered by their respective county Board of Supervisors.  Both county Boards of Supervisors are struggling to address and implement STR ordinances.

    Barbara Aiken from Clearview Shores HOA provided an excellent presentation on their efforts to change their covenants to address STR concerns.  She shared the specific covenant language they used for STRs along with information on their covenant change process as well as the name of the attorney providing legal assistance. 

    Overall, we considered our first meeting a huge success!  We are excited to announce our second meeting on September 22nd and are creating an agenda based upon the many suggestions we received at the April meeting.  The agenda is still in flux but does include presentations from the Lake Anna Business Partners and an HOA presentation on their Check Dam initiative along with a STR update.  Meeting invitations will be sent out soon!

    We are still looking to identify more PC representatives from the 229 communities around the lake.  This would include communities without HOA/ POAs that are impacted by issues such as STRs.  We have many HOA/ POAs with LACA association memberships and this would be an easy way to get involved.  If your HOA/ POA is not a member of the President's Council or you are willing to serve as a community liaison please contact me directly and I will help!

    rick.nehrboss@lakeannavirginia.org


  • September 01, 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Greg Baker – September 2023

    $1 Million for Lake Anna HAB Remediation

    The lake had a monstrous win in the Virginia General Assembly recently!

    This all started a year or more ago when the LACA board decided to start a fundraising campaign called “Kick the HAB!” We sensed a growing frustration with our membership related to the 5th year of VDH recreational or no-swim advisories for much of the upper lake. While the various stakeholders ranging from LACA, DEQ, VDH, LAAC, the academic community and other organizations all care deeply about the lake and the no-swim advisories, most of the action was around testing Lake Anna waters. Very little was being done to mitigate or remediate the Harmful Algal Blooms. That is where this idea all started.

    The board brainstormed and came up with an idea in early 2022 to test a product called Lake Guard Oxy on several test sites on the lake. Our water quality volunteers came up with a set of experiments on the lake and made a presentation to the board for funding. Based on this outline, the board agreed to launch the Kick the HAB! Campaign. I am very proud that the board members themselves reached deep and made significant contributions to this effort. Based on this enthusiasm and our members (and non-members) donations, we blasted through our $110,000 target and raised close to $150,000! This was a first for LACA and showed that our community really cares about this issue.

    In the course of the experiments using Lake Guard Oxy, we found that the product works. However, we also found that for it to be effective, we would need to apply the product far earlier in the growing season and far more often than we previously assumed. With that in mind, we scaled back our experiments late in the summer to preserve the product and to save some money. If you are interested, please visit our website to learn more about the experiments and their results. One of the conclusions from the experiment is that to fight HABs on the lake will be expensive.

    Last fall, given our financial savings on cutting back our experiments and the community’s overwhelming support we had a decision to make. What to do with the excess funds from the Kick the HAB campaign. An innovative idea was brought forward to approach the Governor and the General Assembly to request funding to remediate HAB on the lake. To do this, we approached Hunton Williams in Richmond. Hunton is a local law firm that has a government affairs department and was willing to help. Hunton’s proposal was to attempt to get the funding in the governor’s budget and if that failed to ask our local representatives to include funding in a budget amendment. Because LACA is a nonprofit with a very skinny annual budget, we were not sure that we would be able to afford an impressive firm like Hunton. Fortunately, they were willing to work at greatly discounted price and we struck a deal (with the LACA board’s approval) at roughly a 75% discount from their normal pricing.

    As Hunton started their efforts, we immediately hit a setback. We were too late to be included in the governor’s version of the budget. We were warned that this could be the case. Undeterred, we pressed on. We have some terrific local legislators that were willing to help us in this effort. Senator Peake led the charge on the senate side and Senators Reeves and Stuart signed on as co-patrons. On the house side, Delegate Wyatt was the chief patron and although others were not listed as co-patrons, I know that we had significant support from both Delegate McGuire and Delegate Fowler (and others as well). You can read the budget amendment from the house here and the amendment from the senate here.

    The only bad news in the original budget amendments, there was $1 million in the house version of the amendment and $500 thousand in the senate version. We certainly were hoping for $1 million for Lake Anna.

    Then the really bad news hit. Our Virginia legislators could not agree on a budget. I was very disappointed and felt that we had let the Lake Anna community down by investing your contributions in an effort that might not pay off for the lake.

    Our friends at Hunton never lost hope and told us that it does not benefit anyone, Republican or Democrat to not come to an agreement eventually. They were ultimately correct! Just recently, as you all saw in the press, the governor called a special session to work out the budget and an agreement was made which included the original $1million in funding for mitigation of HAB at Lake Anna.

    Our entire board is humbled and proud of this effort and glad our local legislators got the job done!

    EutroPHIX and Phosphorus Remediation

    What is the next step in our HAB efforts at Lake Anna?

    LACA hosted a special board meeting on August 17th to hear a presentation from EutroPHIX on how we might make a meaningful reduction in Phosphorus in the Lake. Two members of the Lake Anna Advisory Committee attended the meeting as well as a member of Congressman Good’s staff.

    You may see the minutes from this meeting here along with the marketing material provided by EutroPHIX.

    One of the most compelling informational nuggets from this meeting was the following: Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, not a single water body has been cleaned though watershed restoration.

    Fencing agriculture out of our streams, improving our septic systems, instituting best practices for homeowners and other watershed restoration projects certainly help, but do not reverse the impairments in our lakes. We found this statement disturbing and fascinating all at the same time. To confirm, we asked a renowned HAB expert, Dr. David Schmale from Virginia Tech and he confirmed that he is unaware of any academic or scientific paper that points to a success using exclusively watershed restoration efforts.

    In other words, we need to continue our efforts to improve practices in our watershed, but that is NOT GOING TO FIX OUR HAB PROBLEM AT LAKE ANNA! We need to take action using remediation and mitigation techniques. This is where a firm like EutroPHIX could come into play.

    EutroPHIX explained that a budget to remediate Phosphorus on Lake Anna would be approximately $10 million over three years to aggressively address the Phosphorus problem on the lake. We would then need approximately another $1.4 million a year after that for at least another decade to address the Phosphorus that enters the lake from the watershed.

    EutroPHIX has been successful in working with the Federal government to receive funding for their efforts. The LACA board has agreed to work towards raising funds to neutralize our Phosphorus problem on Lake Anna and we are hopeful that EutroPHIX could be part of the long-term solution. LACA is committed towards this goal, but we have not committed to working with EutroPHIX exclusively.  

    We are meeting with Hunton Williams to come up with a plan for the future on how we might attack the funding issues needed to solve the HAB problem at Lake Anna. We are working to better understand the overall cost of remediation and mitigation and the $1 million from the state is a great start, but it is only the beginning. What we can tell you is that our local county budgets do not have the money necessary to apply to this problem and rest assured that Dominion Energy is not going to spend this type of money either. (I bring this up, because I will often hear comments that the county or Dominion Energy should come to the table and fix our problem. Rest assured; it is a much bigger problem than we can solve locally.)

    As we move into 2024, we will be considering fund raising efforts to work towards this outcome. We have realized that our fundraising is not going to fix our HAB problems, and we hope that the community will continue supporting our efforts albeit to work to a governmental solution of the problem.

    2023 Annual Meeting

    At the end of July LACA hosted our annual meeting at Dominion Energy’s Visitor Center. It was well attended with over 100 members joining us in person and more that joined via Zoom.

    I might be biased, but I believe it was one of the best annual meetings in LACA’s history. If you were unable to attend, I would encourage you to watch the Zoom video of the meeting. You may access the video here.

    A big thanks to our guest speakers from Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Sarah Sivers and Tish Robertson. You can fast forward to approximately the nine-minute mark of the above video if you would like to see their presentation.

    greg.baker@lakeannavirginia.org


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