Water Rights In Court

Water Rights In Court

Reston Association and Hidden Creek Country Club are in litigation over the club’s rights to use Lake Anne water.

Reston Association and Hidden Creek Country Club need court action to determine whether the club has the right to pump water out of Lake Anne. Low water levels at the lake present a problem, because residents and businesses in Lake Anne Village Center rely on the lake water to cool their dwellings in the summer heat.

"We’re in litigation and that is all I can say," said Milton Matthews, Reston Association (RA) CEO. "How far it will go, I don’t know."

On Tuesday, July 31, RA capped the country club’s intake pipe from Lake Anne, as it stated it would do if the club did not cease using the water. However, the cap was off by Friday. "We did take some action on the 31st," said Matthews. "It’s not still capped," he said in a Friday, Aug. 3, interview.

While Matthews could not offer any detail on the litigation, John Miraglia, acting general manager of Hidden Creek, said a ruling is expected this week. Miraglia could not specify which of the Fairfax County courts is deciding the case. According to Miraglia, the country club’s title gives it legal rights to use the water. Matthews said in an interview two weeks ago that there is no agreement between RA and Hidden Creek on water usage. Miraglia said that water rights were a part of the title acquired when Hidden Creek bought the property in April 1998. He could not specify who owned the property prior to that date.

The problem is leaving Lake Anne residents and businesses in the middle, with at times unacceptable air conditioning service in the summer. RA representatives and some of the area’s residents allege that Hidden Creek’s water pumping is not leaving sufficient water in the lake for Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning System (RELAC) to operate. About 500 residential units rely on the system. Hidden Creek alleges that it is not water levels that impact the cooling system, but the fact that RELAC is outdated. In a statement last week, the club expressed a wish to be RA’s partner in finding ways to force RELAC operator Aqua Virginia to provide adequate service to its customers.

In a statement last week RA representatives asked the affected residents to write their elected officials to put pressure on Aqua Virginia to do its share in providing adequate service to its customers. Phone calls to Aqua Virginia representative, district manager Luther Gorley, and state Del. Ken Plum (D-36) were unanswered as of press time on Tuesday.