N.C. water flowing to Virginia Beach 74-mile pipeline taps Lake Gaston reservoir


WINDSOR, Va. -- Leaders from Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and other jurisdictions gathered recently in Isle of Wight County to dedicate the Lake Gaston pipeline, which started pumping in August.

The reception took place over the pipeline at the Weir Aeration Structure outside Windsor, where water from Lake Gaston comes to the surface after a 74-mile trip from the North Carolina-Virginia border through a pipe 48 inches in diameter.

At the structure, the water climbs a 30-foot box, then tumbles down eight 4-foot-wide steps, mixing with oxygen, before re-entering the pipeline for the rest of its trip. Water entering the structure has lost some oxygen as it passes through the pipeline.

After 2 miles, water leaves the pipeline in Isle of Wight County and flows toward reservoirs.

"I'm excited about being here," said Terry Legg, a civil engineer who had worked on the project for eight years. "It has been a long, frustrating project. It's been a very exciting project to be on."

Speakers mentioned water and religion in equal portions.

Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf spoke after Lambert.

"For 15 years, in or out of the synagogue, I have prayed for this. And the Lord does listen," Oberndorf said.

"1997 is the year of the pipeline," she said. "This is the year that the pipe dream became a reality."

The diminutive mayor thanked the Virginia Beach City Council, residents and the city's federal delegation for their unrelenting support of the $150 million project.

The mayor discussed the 15 years it took to build the pipeline, including the many court battles with North Carolina.

She singled out Gov.-elect Jim Gilmore, former attorney general, for backing Virginia Beach and "making the contest a state vs. a state instead of a city vs. a state."

She said the pipeline would make the South Hampton Roads area not subject "to the whims of Mother Nature. Our residents will be able to use the water as they see fit."

At the end of the dedication ceremonies, about 20 elected officials and department heads grasped a water valve on the aeration structure and turned it counterclockwise.

Water started cascading down the steps of the structure, heralding the pipeline's formal dedication. Mist rose through the grates, where the officials stood. Project manager Thomas M. Leahy III estimated the water was falling at a rate of 30 million gallons a day.

The pipeline can pump 60 million gallons a day, enough to fill a foot of water in a 184-acre pond.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

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