2/5 UPDATE: Va. Beach Public Utilities Director Tom Leahy says city crews will make trips to reservoirs and lakes to take samples of water today.
VIRGINIA BEACH -- A water advisory was issued for Virginia Beach Tuesday after the city learned coal ash had been released into the Dan River.
The Dan River is located upstream from Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston. Lake Gaston, along with several Norfolk-owned reservoirs, provides public water for the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Since learning of the contaminants in the Dan River, city officials have halted all pumping at the Virginia Beach Lake Gaston intake station until more information becomes available.
The city says the water supply and quality have not been compromised.
“Because of the time that would be necessary for the contaminated water to travel down the Dan River, to Kerr Reservoir, then to Lake Gaston, and finally up into Pea Hill Creek, there is no conceivable way that anything released in the last few days or few weeks could have reached the Gaston intake” said Director of Public Utilities Thomas Leahy.
Leahy says the good news is that the coal ash will never make it or be detected in our water supply, but he is disappointed on how this accident happened in the first place.
"We're concerned that accidents like this are not supposed to happen but they do," Leahy said. "We're not concerned for the safety of the water system...I'm concerned something like this could happen, we saw something like this happen in West Virginia."
Leahy further indicated that water supply intakes on the Dan River and the headwaters of Kerr Reservoir are the immediate focus of attention. These intakes supply neighboring areas in the vicinity of the river and reservoir, not Virginia Beach.
At the time the incident was discovered, very little water was being pumped from Lake Gaston to Norfolk’s reservoirs.
All pumping from Lake Gaston has now been discontinued until further notice.
The city is coordinating with Norfolk, Chesapeake, the Virginia Department of Health, North Carolina, and the Corps of Engineers.
For additional information, please contact Tom Leahy with the Department of Public Utilities at (757) 621-1322.