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Lake Newport Water May Go to Lake Anne

Reston Association authorizes water to flow in order to keep RELAC running.

Lake Anne-area residents who rely on RELAC for air conditioning may be getting some help from their neighbors on Lake Newport.

officials say that the levels at Lake Anne are the lowest in nearly 40 years, making it nearly an emergency situation for residents who depend on the lake water-cooled air conditioning system.

About 300 homes near historic  are cooled by RELAC (Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning Corporation), a mandatory system that was put in place in the mid-1960s.

Lake Anne is 22 inches below normal, RA officials said.

"The water level in Lake Anne is at its lowest point in nearly 40 years as a result of the lack of rainfall this season and the 'by-right' taking of water from the lake by to maintain its golf course," RA President Ken Knueven wrote in a letter to RELAC customers. "The low level of water in Lake Anne is severely impacting the proper operation and functioning of the RELAC System."

The RA Board of Directors authorized the water transfer in a unanimous decision this week. Knueven said he is not sure whether the transfer will be necessary, but with the board's authorization it can take place if necessary.

The transfer will be a one-time event, Knueven said. The two lakes are connected and the transfer would take place by opening a valve, he said. RA officials said the water transfer has been done three times in the past.

For every four inches of drop in Lake Newport there will be approximately a 1.5- inch rise in Lake Anne.  Four inches out of Newport is about 1.25 million gallons, RA officials said.

The problem was first identified in July, when Knueven said Lake Anne levels were three feet below where they should have been. There has not been significant improvement since then.

In July, Knueven asked Hidden Creek to refrain from pumping the allotted 25 million gallons they are allotted annually from Lake Anne. He said Thursday that representatives from Hidden Creek, RA and Aqua Virginia, which operates RELAC, met and seemed to be in agreement. But more recently, more water seems to be leaving the lake, Knueven said.

To read more on this subject and some history of RELAC in Reston,

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Laurie Dodd September 07, 2012 at 10:32 AM
"But more recently, more water seems to be leaving the lake, Knueven said." What is the cause of the recent loss of water from Lake Anne?
John Lovaas September 07, 2012 at 11:53 AM
The owners of Hidden Creek Country Club have the option of purchasing water from Fairfax County just like Reston National and other golf courses do, but they choose instead to harm their neighbors. Their indifference to the damage done to Lake Anne and their Reston neighbors is disappointing to the point of irresponsibility. One would hope that HC members will speak up to the owners and demand they cease & desist this behavior. Canceling memberships is a good option, too. It would be interesting to learn who granted this "by Right" no cost theft from the community's Lake? Does Patch know?
Karen Goff September 07, 2012 at 12:20 PM
We do. It was granted into the deed (by the county?) for HC because it was originally supposed to be a public course.
Karen Goff September 07, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Mostly the lack of rain. but knueven is saying they met with Hidden Creek and asked they stopped pumping so much water. HC complied for a while, but now it seems like they have resumed pumping the water (though he does not have an exact schedule or anything). These are his observations.
Tim Finefrock September 07, 2012 at 01:26 PM
The surface area of Lake Anne if greater so water will evaporate quicker there than Lake Newport. Hope we get cooler weather soon so we can avoid a 4"-8"-12" drop in Lake Newport and better retain the current supply. That and we could use some more rain!
Molly O'Boyle September 07, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I will pose the question that has been posed many times by the homeowners there in the past (and I am not one, btw): when will they vote to change their air conditioning so that the individual home owner can regulate their own home environment?
Diane Blust September 07, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Interesting to know that the provision in the deed concerning water from Lake Anne for the golf course is being enforced even though Hidden Creek turned out to be a private course. The Reston Deed is due for a top to bottom review from the view point of sustainability. The document has served us well and has been revised over the years, but the challenges of the 21st century require 21st century governing documents. Revising the deed is a complex and expensive undertaking which requires a community-wide referendum. But we cannot hope to become a truly sustainable community if our governing documents are not reviewed and updated.
Charlotte Geary September 07, 2012 at 02:39 PM
A lot of Lake Anne residents can't afford to replace their RELAC air conditioning with individual units (a $5k expense or so), so they choose not to vote to eliminate the RELAC system. What needs to change is RA's insistence that all residents use RELAC, even those who prefer to purchase their own a/c unit. RA is out of line with that requirement.
Karen Goff September 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
If you read the background story about RELAC, they are not allowed to replace the system or add an additional system unless they show medical reason. Molly, they have also voted in the past and voted to keep it, but that was a few years ago. It is a complicated situation.
Scott September 07, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Problems with Socialized Air-Conditioning on a local basis? I'm sure there will be no problems with Healthcare when Obamacare kicks in and attempts to manage healthcare nationwide...I'm sure THAT will work just fine! #SHEEPLE
Diane Blust September 07, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Actually, Scott, RELAC is not a "Socialized Air-Conditioning"t system. It is a for-profit utility. Perhaps, if it were truly a locally owned co-operative utility, like the one Boulder, Colorado is bringing on line (http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17018:aug-24-2012-boulders-energy-future-news&catid=805:2012-news-releases&Itemid=5335), we would have more local control and it would probably be a better system. Small, local power plants and grids may be the wave of the future. Wouldn't it be great if Reston could lead the way to local energy independence? RELAC is ailing now, but it was a fairly unique and forward looking system when it was created in the 1960s.
Scott September 07, 2012 at 05:47 PM
uh huh...my HOA is a taxable corporation too. RELAC is owned by a private company, but as utilities of yesteryear, they are slave to the government entity they serve and cannot raise rates or increase the performance of the system without someone else approving it. RELAC is like AT&T before deregulation. 30 cents per minute, no choice, no call waiting, etc. Allow residents a CHOICE, and let the market dictate. Air Conditioning is NOT a utility. The problem with socialism is that socialists always think that despite it NEVER succeeding in the history of the world, the next attempt will be the one that succeeds.
Michael September 07, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Germany, Sweden, and Finland seem to be doing just fine with it... lower education costs, lower health care costs, higher life expectancy, similar standard of living, strong ecomonies, low structural debt.... But the fundamental problem with your argument is that you fail to distinguish between "socialism," in which the government runs it, and "monopoly capitalism," in which the company does. In this situation the revenue goes to a private company and its owners, not to any government entity. Therefore RELAC does not fit even the broadest possible definitions of socialism. It's problems come instead from misapplication of capitalism.
Barbara de Beaufort September 08, 2012 at 11:01 PM
I live on Lake Anne next to where Hidden Creek Country Club has installed their pump. I can hear when the pump is running. The pump has been running 24/7 for most of the summer. If people wonder why Lake Anne is down so low, it is because Hidden Creek has been draining the lake.
steve potts September 09, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Has anyone checked to see if there is a leak in the dam or a below water level leak in the spillway?

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