Loudoun Water officials on Thursday confirmed that Beaverdam Creek Reservoir will be closed to the public for at least the next four years as renovations on the 600-acre property are completed.
Several residents on Thursday had turned out to a Loudoun Water Board of Directors meeting to clarify what would happen.
They left with answers they did not want.
“The only fair way to do it is to close it so that we can get our work done,” said Johnny Rocca, chairman of the board.
Beavercreek Dam Reservoir has been a popular spot for water sports, such as fishing and canoeing, for years.
Loudoun Water purchased the reservoir, along with the Goose Creek Reservoir, Goose Creek Water Treatment Plant and the water transmission pipeline along the W&OD Trail to the Fairfax County line, in January as part of a $30 million deal with the City of Fairfax.
After the purchase, the full 11 million gallons per day produced by Goose Creek Treatment plant will go to Loudoun customers instead of Fairfax residents.
Rocca said it's estimated that it will take up to five years to complete renovations. Loudoun Water, he said, will spend $3 million on average a year to get it up to required standards.
“We will talk to people that want to use it, that have a legitimate reason to use it. They can come to us and apply and we'll consider it. But nothing is going to happen for the next few years until we get our work done out there,” he told the public in the meeting.
The access restriction is necessary, officials said, so engineers can upgrade the site to meet Virginia dam safety design and regulatory criteria, as well as address safety and land use management issues.
The goal is to create a plan that manages the reservoir as a drinking water resource while maintaining a level for public use once renovations are completed.
There have been several drownings in the reservoir over the years, the most recent in November 2011.
Anthony M. DiGiovanna, 49, of Ashburn, drowned after his boat capsized while he was canoeing with his son.
Despite what Loudoun Water officials said were safety concerns, residents said officials were taking away a source of enjoyment for the community – one that they took pride in by working each week to help keep it clean.
Scott Paisley, who is friends with the DiGiovanna family, said he knew despite the death, the family would want access to the reservoir to remain open.
“As a user of the reservoir, my family, among other families … we do a lot of kayaking and canoeing …,” Paisley said.
Dan Turlik, also a nearby resident, said he believed closing the reservoir would open it up to unwanted trespassers.
The community, Turlik said, has about 40 people that are dedicated to keeping the reservoir nice.
“I definitely appreciate the needs for upgrades. The reservoir has been stagnant for decades … I would love to see us work together along the land to upgrade the reservoir and maintain access so that families can enjoy it. I think the last thing people want is the kids staying home playing video games and getting into all sorts of trouble ...”