Newsletter articles

  • February 01, 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Al Bennett - February 2021

    Just a reminder to all Lake Anna residents that the annual 4:00 p.m. Virginia Burning Law goes into effect on February 15 and extends through April 30. 

    This law dates back to the 1940s and was adopted to reduce the number of fires which normally occur in the late fall and spring.  During this period of the year, the accumulation of downed trees, fallen branches, and dead leaves coupled with low humidity and increased winds elevates the danger for forest fires. 

    The Virginia Department of Forestry established 4:00 p.m. as the earliest time of day to initiate a burn because in the late afternoon, wind and humidity environmental factors are typically more favorable for a safe burn.  At this time of day, winds calm down and humidity begins to rise.

    The below Burning Laws in Brief and Burning Laws in Detail were extracted from a Virginia Department of Forestry brochure.  The brochure can be found at

    Burning Laws in Brief

    • No burning until after 4:00 p.m. February 15 through April 30 of each year, if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodland, brushland or field containing dry grass or other flammable material.
    • Fire shall not be left unattended if within 150 feet of woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass.
    • No new fires set or fuel added after midnight.
    • Law applies to campfires, warming fires, brush piles, leaves, household trash, stumps, fields of broomstraw and brush or anything capable of spreading fire.
    • The law provides for a penalty of up to $500, plus payment of court costs and fire suppression costs if the fire escapes.

    Burning Laws in Detail

    § 10.1-1142. Regulating the burning of woods, brush, etc.; penalties.

    A. It shall be unlawful for any owner or lessee of land to set fire to, or to procure another to set fire to, any woods, brush, logs, leaves, grass, debris, or other inflammable material upon such land unless he previously has taken all reasonable care and precaution, by having cut and piled the same or carefully cleared around the same, to prevent the spread of such fire to lands other than those owned or leased by him. It shall also be unlawful for any employee of any such owner or lessee of land to set fire to or to procure another to set fire to any woods, brush, logs, leaves, grass, debris, or other inflammable material, upon such land unless he has taken similar precautions to prevent the spread of such fire to any other land.

    B. Except as provided in subsection C, during the period February 15 through April 30 of each year, even though the precautions required by the foregoing subsection have been taken, it shall be unlawful, in any county or city or portion thereof organized for forest fire control under the direction of the State Forester, for any person to set fire to, or to procure another to set fire to, any brush, leaves, grass, debris or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within 300 feet of any woodland, brushland, or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material, except between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.

    The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any fires which may be set to prevent damage to orchards or vineyards by frost or freezing temperatures or be set on federal lands.

    C. Subsection B shall not apply to any fire set during the period beginning February 15 through April 30 of each year, if:

    1. The fire is set for "prescribed burning" that is conducted in accordance with a "prescription" and managed by a "certified prescribed burn manager" as those terms are defined in § 10.1-1150.1;

    2. The burn is conducted in accordance with § 10.1-1150.4;

    3. The State Forester has, prior to February 1, approved the prescription for the burn; and

    4. The burn is being conducted for one of the following purposes: (i) control of exotic and invasive plant species that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year, (ii) wildlife habitat establishment and maintenance that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year or, (iii) management necessary for natural heritage resources.

    The State Forester may on the day of any burn planned to be conducted pursuant to this subsection revoke his approval of the prescription for the burn if hazardous fire conditions exist. The State Forester may revoke the certification of any certified prescribed burn manager who violates any provision of this subsection.

    D. Any person who builds a fire in the open air, or uses a fire built by another in the open air, within 150 feet of any woodland, brushland or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material, shall totally extinguish the fire before leaving the area and shall not leave the fire unattended.

    E. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor for each separate offense. If any forest fire originates as a result of the violation by any person of any provision of this section, such person shall, in addition to the above penalty, be liable to the Commonwealth for the full amount of all expenses incurred by the Commonwealth in suppressing such fire. Such amounts shall be recoverable by action brought by the State Forester in the name of the Commonwealth on behalf of the Commonwealth and credited to the Forestry Operations Fund.

  • February 01, 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Pamela Hann - February 2021

    As the reality of the pandemic set in early last spring, I began to panic.  The governor had declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020 and issued a “stay at home order” on March 30.  At that point in time, our local Food Lion was already routinely running low on paper goods, cleaning supplies and fresh produce.  Thoughts of food shortages and lack of resources bounced around in my brain.  Since we had a good supply of toilet paper, I quickly became more concerned about finding a reliable source for fresh fruits and vegetables.

    One day, as I was wandering aimlessly around our property, (I had to fill those endless quarantine hours somehow) I had an epiphany. I would plant a vegetable garden.  Our side yard faces southeast making it the perfect area for planting.

    When I mentioned my plans to a neighbor, he laughed and wished me good luck.  Apparently, it was going to be a battle between my plants and the deer, squirrel, and chipmunk populations. To make a long story short, we solved that issue by building an 8 x 8 raised bed with an attached deer fence. Once we had the structure in place, it was time to think about planting.

    As this was my first time as a vegetable gardener, I looked to the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners for planting advice. 

    While I completed my classwork to become a master gardener in 2018, I was still an intern as I had not yet completed my garden intern work hours. For those that don’t know, Master Gardeners are a group of volunteers trained in the “science and art” of gardening.

    The Virginia extension has a plethora of gardening information online and a helpline staffed by volunteers willing to answer any questions.

    Armed with this information and advice I picked up on the internet, I set about ordering my seedlings as it was too late to plant from seed. I had less than an 8 x 8 planting area- yet, I managed to plant the following seedlings in this space while completely ignoring the planting directions:

    3 green beans; 3 strawberries; 3 tomato varieties; 2 cucumber; arugula; snap peas; thai eggplant; 2 varieties of red pepper and 2 different types of basil.

    There is a proverb that states “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” (perhaps you can anticipate where my story leads…).

    After a month of summer sunshine and watering from the lake, my plants were thriving.  By mid-July, my cucumbers had escaped their cage and were crawling across the yard (note- the animals like to eat the plant but not the cucumber); the tomatoes were taking over the bed; one of the plants even grew to a staggering 8 feet tall x 4 feet wide! My garden was completely out of control.  While we had a bountiful harvest, a lot of the produce went to waste and some of the plants died due to lack of growing space.

    According to the Virginia Master Gardener Association (VGMA), the pandemic has caused an increase in the numbers of people who plan to grow their own food this year.  Yet like me, many don’t know the proper steps to follow.  In an effort to help make us all more successful home gardeners, the VGMA Education Committee is producing a series of virtual programs entitled “Grow Your Own Food…”. The first of the four sessions is on February 27.   You can find more information and register for the programs here.

    I have already signed up- now it’s time to start daydreaming about which plants I’ll grow this spring!

  • February 01, 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mike Gelber - February 2021

    Lake Anna was created from farmland and is fed by streams that run through existing working farms.  There are also many homes surrounding the lake with septic systems and large expanses of lawn. These factor into the large amounts of nutrients coming into the lake causing excessive algae growth.  Some algae are harmless, but others create toxins that are harmful to people and animals.

    Several LACA committees have been researching ways to naturally diminish the amount of algae in the lake by reducing the nutrients.   Traditional wetlands are one way to achieve this but are extremely expensive due to the need to purchase land and a monumental amount of work to create and maintain.   The large amount of funding needed for wetlands was not achievable. 

    While researching ways to reduce the nutrient levels, we discovered Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTW).  The concentrated nature of these floating wetlands (a 250 sq. ft. FTW is equivalent to a full acre of traditional wetlands), makes them extremely cost and space effective.  One 250 sq. ft. floating island has the potential to prevent the growth of up to 11,000 lbs. of wet algae biomass. 

    Plants used on these floating islands are native to Virginia, are non-aggressive and non-invasive.  They provide a sustainable pollutant-removal system and wildlife habitat.   FTWs can tolerate water-level fluctuations if they are tethered so they are not damaged or lost.  These islands can also enhance the visual appeal and interest in the lake.  The variety of plants like Lobelia Cardinalis, Iris Versicolor, Broadleaf Arrowhead, Water Millet, Swamp Sunflower and others can provide year-round interest and beauty. Plants attract insects and birds, and the island surface can provide small animal habitat.  Island shade and roots provide cover for fish and invertebrates.  Island material and root systems provide valuable surface area for beneficial microbes to grow and pull pollutants from the water through hydroponics.    

    We have created several test floating islands which are being monitored through the winter.  We used different construction materials and plant choices.  For flotation of these islands, we collected hundreds of empty plastic water and soda bottles and put them into the frame.  This helps decrease plastic waste in the environment. 

    Plants continue to do well, and we are expecting good growth in the spring.  They continue to ride the waves well.  The little fish seem to use them for shelter, and we have seen some good size bass and sun fish hanging around the test islands.  So when you see a 25 x 5 foot island of flowers and grasses floating in the lake you’ll know what it is.

  • December 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Sue Biondi - December 2020

    This article is to inform members and the public about the Lake Anna Dam.  At times of flooding and at times of drought, many wonder why Dominion Power is not adjusting the water level according to the event.  Well, it’s not how the dam functions.  There are many factors that go into how the dam functions and this article will hopefully help answer your questions.

    Details of the Dam
    • The Lake Anna Dam is 5,200 feet long 
    • The structure is 95 feet high
    • It is powered by one electric diesel generator
    • There are 3 radial gates and 2 skimmer gates 
    • The Crest is 265 feet at mean sea level (msl)
    • Normal lake level is 250 feet
    • There is a daily operations inspection by Civil Engineers
    • Monitoring is done with instruments
    • There is periodic testing
    • There are annual dam surveys
    • There is a separate Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

    Causes of Dam Failures

    • Lake Level over topping the dam
    • Probable maximum flooding (PMF)
    • Gates failing to open resulting in no discharge
    • Spillway failure due to PMF
    • Failure of downstream slope due to earthquake
    • Failure of spillway due to earthquake
    • Failure of embankment due to internal erosion (piping)
    Consequences of Dam Failure
    • Potential for human casualties
    • Property damage
    • Civil penalties
    • Financial cost of dam repairs
    • Loss of power generation facilities supported by the lake

    Impact of a Lake Anna Dam Failure

    • Shutdown of both nuclear units for approximately three plus (3+) years. (Time to repair the dam plus the original estimate of 2+ years to fill the lake with normal precipitation)
    • Operation of more expensive power facilities to meet demand or power purchase
    • Regional business impact:  business revenue; jobs; tax revenue
    • Reduced property values
    • Loss of a major recreation area for the Commonwealth
    • Potential loss of life downstream
    • Flooding and resulting damage to downstream roads and properties
    • Cost of downstream property damage
    • Jeopardize river water withdraw capabilities for downstream businesses and counties

    When are these emergency levels entered?

    • Imminent and Potential - If the lake level reaches 262 feet, then Potential Failure is declared.  If the water level reaches 265 feet or water is flowing over the dam, then Imminent Failure is declared
    • High Flow - When two radial gates get to 4 feet open, the EAP will be entered, notifications will be made and the Lake Anna Advisory Team will be notified.  At 8 feet on two radial gates, the Lake Anna Advisory Team will be activated.
    • Non-Failure - Non-Failure is appropriate for an event at the dam that will not, by itself, lead to a failure, but requires investigation and notification of internal and/or external personnel.  This will be identified and taken care of by performing a “Main Dam Daily Inspection,” but EAP notifications are not performed.  

    North Anna Dam Safety Program

    • The Project is an integral part of the North Anna Power Station
    • This Program defines for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Dominion’s commitment to ensure that the Project is operated in a manner that protects public safety, is operated in a manner that does not compromise dam safety or integrity, and inspection programs are in place and properly managed
    • Aspects of the Project’s operation, maintenance, inspection, safety and emergency actions are governed in the same manner as programs required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the nuclear power station

    Chief Dam Safety Engineer

    • Responsible for oversight of the North Anna Dam Safety Program to ensure it is fully implemented
    • Notifications to Site VP and Engineering Directors
    • Routinely assess the organization's compliance with written dam safety program and report the findings to senior management
    • Review audit report by Independent Consultant and prepare a summary for senior management


    • The Lake Anna Dam is vitally important to NAPS, Dominion and local communities
    • NAPS complies with the FERC rules and regulations
    • The NRC believes downstream dam failures warrant an evaluation by the Generic Issues Program
    • The economic impact of a Lake Anna Dam failure would be staggering
    • The North Anna Dam Safety Program ensures we operate and maintain the dam to protect the health and safety of the public, the company and its customers.

    Lake Anna DamAs you can see, when we are all out on a sunny afternoon in the summer enjoying all the recreational activities the lake has to offer, there is so much going on behind the scenes to ensure the safety and integrity of the dam.  If you drive by the power plant and see all the buildings and the two round reactors, take a minute to reflect on the purpose of the dam, the lake that you are enjoying, and saying a special thank you to all the people who make it what it is, that is your Lake Anna!

  • December 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Maureen Daniels - December 2020

    Be sure to add water temperature to the things you should consider before heading out. You likely know what the air temperature is. Any idea what the water temperature is?  As I write this, the temp on Lake Anna is 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

    So how could that affect you at this time of year on the water? 

    According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a sudden immersion into cold water, even on a warmish, sunny day, can bring on hypothermia in as little as 3-5 minutes.

    Cold water sucks heat from the body, and the body’s core temperature drops. This can lead to loss of consciousness and, ultimately, death. Hypothermia happens very quickly.

    What are the first symptoms of cold water shock?

    Initial “cold shock” occurs in the first 3-5 minutes of immersion in cold water.  Sudden immersion into cold water can cause immediate, involuntary gasping; hyperventilation; panic; and vertigo—all of which can result in water inhalation and drowning.

    All of us know what various air temperatures feel like so we dress accordingly.  Many of us know how chilling that first dip into the Lake in May can feel.  Jump in, gasp!  Lips might turn blue.  Get out, shiver.  That is a mild case of hypothermia.  Imagine being immersed in that cold water for any length of time.  Most of us have never experienced being in extremely cold water, so it is hard to imagine the consequences.

    Normal body temperature is about 98.6F.  Treat any water temperature below 70F with caution.  Swimming in temperatures below 70 degrees can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can put you at risk.  

    Prepare for the unexpected.

    In the fall and winter, you likely are not planning to be in the water.  However, capsizing, swamping, and falling overboard are leading causes of cold water immersion—not planned events.

    If you end up in the water, do you have a way to get back onto your boat, board, kayak or canoe?

    What you can do to be safe and enjoy your time on the water

    1.    Wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket. It will not do you any good if you end up in the cold water and your life jacket is on the boat or paddle craft. A life jacket will increase your chances of surviving cold water immersion.

    2.    Be sure whatever vessel you are using is in good shape—gassed up, charged battery, drain plug installed, appropriate paddles.

    3.    In paddle craft especially, keep a low center of gravity, distribute weight evenly.

    4.    Let someone know that you are out on the water, where you expect to go, and when you plan to come off the water.

    What you should do if you do end up in cold water . . 

    Try not to panic.

    Get your breathing under control

    Leave layers of clothing on to help prevent body heat loss

    If possible, stay with the vessel and get as much of your body out of the water as possible.

    Remember— your life jacket will help support you.

    Lastly, seek medical help as soon as possible, as post-immersion collapse can happen during or after a rescue.  A drop in blood pressure can lead to cardiac arrest.

    On thin ice . . .When in doubt, don’t go out!  While some parts of the Lake may look like they are completely frozen over, do not take any chances.  Ice freezes and thaws at different rates and ice thickness can vary depending on currents, springs, depth and debris in the water.

    This is another circumstance that puts you at high risk for hypothermia if you were to fall through the ice.

    Don’t forget . . .Protect your pets!  They can be susceptible to the same health issues and life threatening circumstances when in cold water.  If it is too cold for you to be in the water, it could be too cold for them, as well.  If you are not comfortable going out on the ice, don’t let your pets venture out either.

    Be safe!

    Avoid Spot and Treat Frostbite & Hypothermia

  • December 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Greg Baker - December 2020

    As I sit down to put pen to paper or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard, it has been a strange and melancholy year here at Lake Anna. We are all still in the midst of the pandemic with over 300,000 cases in Virginia and a little more than 4600 deaths. Most of us probably know someone diagnosed with the disease and worse, know of someone that has sadly passed away. But in some ways, and maybe it is a false sense of security, Lake Anna seems to have been relatively spared. I can’t easily find the specific statistics for just the lake, but the combination of Louisa and Spotsylvania County has had 4718 cases and 71 deaths as of this writing according to the Virginia Department of Health website. And of course, these numbers are skewed dramatically by the city of Fredericksburg in the Spotsylvania numbers, meaning the exposure here at Lake Anna is likely far, far lower. If you are so inclined to follow the data you can do so by clicking the map below. It also allows for you to drill down to our surrounding counties.

    Because of shutdowns and the concerns around traveling or flying, families have been looking for options to do "staycations" closer to home and many new visitors have discovered all the wonderful options that are available here at Lake Anna. 2020 seems to have been the busiest year that I can remember in my 30 years of owning property at Lake Anna. Many or our members may not like our “secret” getting out, but we are blessed to have access to such a beautiful place to hunker down and get through the pandemic. I certainly do not mind sharing our oasis in central Virginia with our friends and families.

    The pandemic has had its impact on our work at LACA. First, we stopped our in-person monthly board meetings in March. We did not miss a beat with access to Zoom and we adapted very quickly to virtual board meetings. (Although we all at times struggle with our lack of speedy internet access here in the country!) Not sure that I can speak for the board, but I actually prefer the virtual meetings. We will see if we ever go back to traditional in-person meetings or not. This allows for our non-resident volunteers to join our meetings year round and allows for all of our members to sit in on our meetings as well. Our board meetings are always open to the public and are held at 5:00PM on the first Thursday of each month. Please drop in if you are interested in the interworkings of our board. We try and post the Zoom credentials on our website a day or two before the meetings or you can always email me at if you are interested in attending.

    We also had to cancel our in-person annual meeting in July. We were determined to host the meeting and ultimately, we conducted our first ever Zoom annual meeting in late October. It went off beautifully and was well attended. Special thanks to Dr. Jennifer Graham who gave a very interesting presentation on Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs).  It was a long meeting, but you can actually view the meeting recording on YouTube by clicking the photo below and fast forwarding to the parts that interest you. I would highly recommend watching Dr. Graham’s presentation.

    The pandemic also curtailed our water quality efforts as well as those conducted by DEQ. LACA had to postpone or cancel some of our testing in the spring.  As the summer progressed and the pandemic threat level subsided, our volunteers were able to adapt and get the work done on your behalf. While I am on the subject of water quality, I wanted to highlight just a few of the efforts of our water quality folks that were led by our co-chairs, Harry Looney and Mike Gelber. I am continually impressed by their dedication to keeping Lake Anna’s water clean and ultimately solve what has become our ongoing battle with HABs.

    One of LACA’s most important accomplishments was to develop, with the help of DEQ, VDH, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, USGS, local universities and others, a HAB Recovery plan. A significant amount of work went into this plan.  It is a living, breathing document that will help guide LACA in our efforts to fight and win this battle. LACA has participated in many, many meetings with all of our stakeholders.  You can see a list of LACA’s accomplishments ,that we published for our annual meeting, which includes the work of our water quality committee but also the work done by the Land Use, Environmental Preservation and our Emergency Services & Safety Committees.

    LACA expanded its traditional water quality monitoring program by adding weekly testing for algae and toxins on the lake. Next year the water quality team is working with academia and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to try to incorporate satellites to identify HAB “hot spots” on the lake to fine tune our testing and better deploy our resources of volunteer time and the costs of the lab work. This is fascinating stuff, using computers and satellites to help identify possible HAB outbreaks by analyzing pixels on maps that represent 10-meter square sections of the lake. This is truly amazing! NOAA established a website to show the actual images that will be used. You can click on the following map to see the images yourself.

    Harry Looney will be writing a year-in-review on the water quality program in our next newsletter, so I will keep you in suspense for all that has happened in 2020 and what to expect further in 2021. We can always use volunteers to help collect water samples and also to help in data analysis and other projects related to water quality. If you are interested in volunteering for these efforts, please reach out to Harry at

    I am also very proud of our membership’s support of our call for donations to co-invest with the Lake Anna Advisory Committee on phase one of a robust watershed study to understand the causes and potential remediation of HABs. We agreed to fund $10,000 towards this study and raised nearly that amount from your generous donations. The first phase of the study will focus on the North Anna branch of the lake and phase two will focus on the Pamunkey Creek and Terry’s Run section of the lake. The study is well under way and I will report back to our membership as I hear of their findings. If you missed the opportunity to donate to this very worthy effort, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our water quality programs. 

    Speaking of finances, LACA operates on a shoestring budget and much of what we are able to accomplish is funded by grants or your generous donations. Clearly, we are not able to execute our goals based on our very low $15 annual dues. Therefore, there are a couple of announcements that I would like to make.

    First, in order to continue to represent our growing community and to execute our mission, we need your help. We hope to grow our membership in the new year.  We will be announcing a March to 1000 Membership Drive with some great prizes for those of you that help refer members to LACA. While the membership drive has not started officially, any members you refer that add your name in the referral field on the membership application form, will count towards upcoming contests. Please be on the lookout for our announcement early next year. In the interim, please consider telling your friends and neighbors about all that we do and encourage them to be part of our journey! New members can easily join on our website by clicking here

    Secondly, we are discovering opportunities to apply for grants that could help LACA execute our vision. We felt the need to have a "go to" person to spearhead our grant writing effort. Since none of your board is qualified to do so, we are going to try and learn on the job.  We have asked Jack Molenkamp, who kindly volunteered to help LACA, to act as our grant writer. While Jack admits that he does not have any experience in grant writing, we are undeterred and very happy to have Jack help us in this effort. If you are experienced in this field and are willing to help or provide advice, please consider contacting us! It will be very much appreciated.

    Speaking of grants, LACA is proud to announce that we received an $8,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. Thanks to Mike Gelber for leading this effort. The grant is for a program that LACA and Mike will develop in the spring to deploy floating wetlands at Lake Anna. Floating wetlands are small islands that float on the surface and are planted with native species. The plants’ roots grow through the island and dangle up to 2 feet below the surface. These islands are very effective in competing for nutrients, which could help starve HABs. We hope to work with the Louisa County High School students in the late spring to install several of these islands in the lake. Mike will be writing an article with more details in a future newsletter. If you are interested in helping with this project, please reach out directly to Mike at

    LACA and your board recently reworked two of our six regions. This was done to more equally divide our membership among our regional directors and to also help to better represent the private side of Lake Anna with our board. The two new regional boundaries are now logically divided to represent members on the public side versus the private side of the lake.One of our long-time regional directors recently stepped down from our board and we currently have an opening for a regional director to represent this newly drawn region on the private side of the lake. This is an opportunity to have a very important impact and we would love to hear from interested volunteers. If you currently are an active member of LACA, live or own a home on the private side and would be interested in being a member of LACA’s board, please email me at I will be happy to share with you what to expect as a regional director and what are the regional director responsibilities. Please consider volunteering!

    As you can see, even in a pandemic, there is much going on with LACA and I have just scratched the surface of our activities in this column. There is much to do and it has been a privilege serving our community and working with the dedicated volunteers that make up LACA. I wish all of our members a very safe and Happy Christmas and a wonderful and hopefully a very different New Year in 2021!

    (By the way, a big THANK YOU to J.D. Edwards our newsletter editor. JD gives fully of himself, not only to help us out at LACA, but he is a big volunteer at the Louisa County Resource Council. The world is a much better place with folks like JD!)

  • November 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Irene Luck - November 2020

    Covid couldn’t stop LACA from holding its annual meeting, even though it had to be postponed briefly and then held virtually on Saturday morning, October 24.  Nearly 150 members and guests logged in to hear what the civic organization has been doing in the past year.

    With the third season of swim advisories, due to harmful algal blooms, the board chose Dr. Jennifer Graham, Research Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey as the guest speaker.  Dr. Graham’s topic, “Cyanotoxin Occurrence in the U.S. -- A 20-year Retrospective,” provided an in-depth history of the occurrence of algal blooms and how the evaluation process has changed over the years.  Her presentation is included in the record of our minutes and if you missed the meeting you can access the recording on our website or by clicking here.

    We also welcomed our two new board members – Pamela Hahn, the Mineral/Louisa regional director, and Rick Nehrboss, the Brokenburg regional director.  Both were elected in July during online voting, another new process for the association.  President Greg Baker also introduced Jean McCormick, the Cuckoo regional director who was appointed in September following the resignation of Dick Shrum.

    One of the key accomplishments for the organization this year is the new website which offers members the ability to maintain their own information and allows the board to send the newsletters via email, resulting in a tremendous savings in the budget.  The website allows for more flexible contact with our members, more up-to-date information as well as the ability to pay membership dues and make donations online.

    The biggest focus of LACA this year has been related to the harmful algae blooms and water quality with the Water Quality Committee and Environmental Preservation Committee teaming up to work on potential solutions from different angles.

    LACA is also contributing $10,000 to the Lake Anna Advisory Committee’s [LAAC] sediment study which is currently underway.  LAAC is a sister organization comprised of representatives from the three county Supervisors [Louisa, Orange and Spotsylvania] as well as citizen representatives from each county.  They are undertaking a three-phase effort to determine the source of the algae reaching the lake and find ways to mitigate the causes.  The Water Quality and Environmental Protection committees are also closely monitoring the efforts of LAAC

    Another feature of the annual meeting is the presentation of the Jack Bertron Distinguished Service Award.  This year, three people were recognized for their contributions to the organization and the Lake Anna community.

    Patty Shapiro retired from the board this year after serving for 15 years, first as the association’s secretary from 2006 to 2010 and then as the Brokenburg regional director from 2010 until her retirement. 

    Ken Remmers stepped away from leading the Water Quality Committee in 2019 but continued to work with the new leadership in the transition.  Under his leadership the water monitoring program expanded its focus and outreach by partnering with numerous agencies in the state.  He was presented the award for the second time for his many hours of service to protecting Lake Anna.

    Steve Falkenthal also received the award for the second time as he retired from his role with the Water Quality Committee.  Steve spent many hours navigating through the water quality data, ensuring the equipment was calibrated and ready to go each testing day and working to ensure the program maintained its Level 3 certification with DEQ.

    Both Ken and Steve put in many hours improving the standards used by the water monitoring teams in keeping LACA as one of the few citizen monitoring teams recognized by DEQ as capturing data equivalent to theirs.

    President Greg thanked all three honorees for their many years of dedicated service to the volunteer organization, often while still working regular jobs.

    Reports from other committees are captured in the recording of the meeting and a synopsis of each committee’s activities can be found on our You Tube channel by clicking here.

    If you have friends or neighbors who aren’t members of LACA but are interested in hearing the information presented, please share it with them and encourage them to join.  LACA is an all-volunteer organization so if you would like to get involved, reach out to one of the board members or committee chairs – their contact information is all on the LACA website.

  • November 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Al Bennett - November 2020

    November is a significant month for Lake Anna’s aquatic life and continued good water quality.  It is the time of the year when the lake “turns over”, meaning the internal workings of the lake completely mix the water throughout the entire depth of the lake, sometimes referred to as the water column.  This mixing brings much needed oxygen from the surface water region (scientific term is epilimnion) to the lake’s bottom layer (hypolimnion).  Likewise, the nutrients that have been generated and are present at the lake’s bottom are released throughout the water column.

    To understand how and why the lake mixes, one must first understand the relationship between water temperature and its density.  Water possesses a unique property in that it is most dense and therefore the heaviest when its temperature is 39.2 degrees.  Above and below this temperature, water is less dense.  See the below table for the weight of a gallon of water at various temperatures.

    In the summer months and in the mid to lower section of the lake where water depth exceeds 40 feet, the lake becomes stratified into three layers where the water temperature within each layer is relatively constant.  See the below table.  In June and for the first 40 feet or so it is not uncommon for the water temperature to be about 81 degrees at the surface and roughly 74 degrees at the 40 foot level.  Another layer (metalimnion), commonly referred to as the thermocline, extends down to a depth of about 60 ft where the temperature at that depth is on the order of 63 degrees.  Below the 60 ft level, water temperature drops to approximately 60 degrees at the deepest part of the lake.

    Lake stratification slowly disappears in the mid to upper region of the lake.  At The Splits (North Anna River/Pamunkey Creek) and above, the lake becomes shallower and the water temperature is uniform throughout the water column.

    As the season transitions from summer to fall, the surface water becomes increasing cooler.  As it cools, it becomes denser (heavier) thereby, displacing the water at lower depths.  By about mid November, the water temperature at the surface near the dam and at a depth of 69 feet will be about the same, approximately 62 degrees.

    Throughout the fall and winter, the water will become colder within the water column; however, the variation in temperature will be minimal. Since there is minimal temperature variation, nutrients and oxygen travel freely within the water column. Wind assists with water circulation. Come late spring, the lake’s surface layer will begin to warm and by the summer, the lake will once again be stratified where oxygen within the highly oxygenated top layer and the nutrients in the nutrient rich bottom layer will remain “trapped” until the lake “turns over” again in November 2021.

  • November 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts - November 2020 

    The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) is an urban cost-share program that provides financial incentives and technical and educational assistance to property owners installing eligible Best Management Practices (BMPs) in Virginia’s participating Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). Most practices are eligible for 75% cost-share and some practices provide a flat incentive payment up to the installation cost. These practices can be installed in areas of your yard where problems like erosion, poor drainage, or poor vegetation occur. Qualified sites shall be used for residential, commercial, or recreational purposes with a proposed practice that addresses a need.

    Your Local SWCD Can Help You…

     Restore problem areas
    Control and minimize erosion
    Conserve water within the landscape
    Improve riparian buffer areas
    Promote wildlife habitat
    Re-vegetate bare slopes
    Stabilize drainage ways
    Treat stormwater runoff

    We Help You Make a Difference…

    Why do Virginia’s waters need improving? Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water quality problems. Rainfall or snowmelt from suburban lawns, golf courses, and paved surfaces picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.

    Roads, parking lots, sidewalks, homes, and offices replace natural landscapes. Rainfall that once soaked into vegetated ground now becomes stormwater runoff, which flows directly into local waterways.

    As more natural landscapes are converted to impermeable surfaces or managed turf, stormwater moves across them, carrying pollutants such as sediment and nutrients to vulnerable streams and rivers. Storm drains you see on the street do not provide any sort of water filtration.

    Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay identifies that urban/suburban runoff is contributing to impairment and efforts to retro-actively address stormwater runoff from existing impervious surfaces is a priority. VCAP is an opportunity to help you do your part to improve water quality.

    Eligible Practices… 

    Most practices are eligible for 75% cost-share and some practices provide a flat incentive payment up to the installation cost.

    Conservation Landscaping

    Impervious Surface Removal

    Permeable Pavement Installation

    Dry Wells

    Rainwater Harvesting

    Vegetated Conveyance System

    Constructed Wetlands


    Rain Gardens


    Green Roofs

    Living Shorelines

    All participating Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in Virginia are eligible for VCAP assistance.


     Marta Perry  Anne Coates  Greg Wichelns
     Director  Director  Director
     Tri-County/City SWCD  T. Jefferson SWCD  Culpeper SWCD
     540-656-2401  434-975-0224  540-825-8591
     4811 Carr Drive  706G Forest Avenue  351 Lakeside Drive
     Fredericksburg  Charlottesville  Culpeper

  • October 01, 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Harry Looney - October 2020

    As part of our ongoing efforts to prevent Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) from forming on Lake Anna, LACA established an academic partnership with the Environmental Studies Program at Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) in early 2020, initiating a research effort to sample, measure and analyze nutrients (phosphorous, orthophosphates and nitrogen) in the lake sediment.  Dr. Mike Fenster and Dr. Chas Gowan lead the R-MC research program that will involve sediment sampling in the lake north of the 208 bridge. 

    The R-MC research program began in August when the students returned to campus and started the fall semester.  R-MC’s fall semester is broken into two parts due to COVID-19 restrictions and school protocols.  The Environmental Studies course was only 8 weeks in duration, so the faculty and students had to fit a considerable amount of planning and preparation into a short period of time. 

    The R-MC research program is focused on sediment collection in the main tributaries from the 208 bridge to the northern headwaters of the lake (North Anna River, Pamunkey Creek and Terry’s Run).  We included several creeks in the upper lake area as well (Plentiful Creek, Foremost Run and Ware’s Creek).  The R-MC research program will be conducted over several academic semesters.  All data will be analyzed by the students to quantify the levels of nitrogen, orthophosphates, and phosphorus in the sediment.  We expect to have initial insights after completion of program activities in the spring semester (April 2021).  All data, insights and results generated by the R-MC research will be provided to LACA for our internal review.  The R-MC research in the spring semester will focus on data analysis and visualization to inform our understanding of how the nutrients in the sediment can be made available to cyanobacteria that are naturally present in the lake.

    The R-MC fall semester execution plan was impacted significantly by COVID-19, so the students were not able to go out on the lake to collect samples.  LACA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) implemented a back-up plan and were able to collect samples at nine locations.  The data generated by this sampling effort will be used in the continuing R-MC research effort.  LACA thanks the R-MC faculty and students for their efforts under such unfavorable, extreme conditions. LACA also thanks DEQ for their efforts in stepping in to collect the sediment samples when COVID-19 impacted the R-MC sampling plan.

    Results from the R-MC research project will be shared with the Lake Anna Advisory Committee (LAAC) that is executing a comprehensive study to determine the cause of our recent harmful algae blooms (HABs) and to inform course-of-action development into potential remediation actions that could be taken.  Phase one of the LAAC project focuses on the North Anna River from Holladay Bridge west to the upper reaches of the lake.  The objective of LAAC’s robust study is to determine the magnitude of phosphorus and nitrogen loading from external (from the streams) and internal (in the water column and sediment) sources.  The tasks that will be executed to achieve their objective include mapping the North Anna River watershed, mapping of the lake bottom and sediment sampling.

    Sediment nutrient loading is one of the key knowledge gaps that LACA, LAAC and DEQ have identified with our understanding of the lake dynamics.  Both the R-MC academic research effort and the LAAC project are working to fill this knowledge gap so our decisions are based on data and science informed by relevant, current data. 

    Interested LACA members are welcome to volunteer in support of this research program.  Contact the Water Quality Committee leads if you are interested in learning more or volunteering to support this research program.

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