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RELAC Scare for Lake Anne Residents

RA pumps water into Lake Anne to ensure cooling system continues to operate.

Residents in and near Lake Anne Village Center almost lost the ability to cool their homes last week when water levels at Lake Anne dropped. On Thursday, July 19, Reston Association acted to raise the lake’s level to ensure continuous operation of RELAC, the cooling system that uses the lake’s water.

"We’re aware of the lake levels and are making a conscious effort to make sure" RELAC continues to operate, said Milton Matthews, Reston Association CEO in an interview on Friday afternoon. The RA opened the dam that releases water from Lake Newport to Lake Anne. According to Matthews, water levels at Lake Newport dropped eight inches as of Friday morning. "We need some rain," said Matthews. The National Weather Service reported on its Web site on Thursday that it expected temperatures in Reston to reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lake Anne residents expressed concern in a RA district meeting held in June that RELAC might not be reliable during periods of hot summer weather. They also expressed concern that the golf course at nearby Hidden Creek Country Club uses too much of the lake’s water in its efforts to keep the playing surface green. Matthews said the country club does use water from the lake for its own purposes and that it has a direct impact on the water levels at Lake Anne. "We are having discussions with Hidden Creek," said Matthews, not explaining details of the discussions but adding that conversations have been ongoing for years.

"There is no agreement between Reston Association and Hidden Creek" to take water out of Lake Anne, said Matthews.

Aqua Virginia operates RELAC. Matthews said that the company submitted an application to the RA Design Review Board (DRB) a year-and-a-half to two years ago for cooling towers, which would help run the cooling system more efficiently. The DRB at that point sent the application back with questions related to the physical features of the cooling towers. According to Matthews, Aqua Virginia never came back with the answer.