|County officials and community residents take a "pipeline walk" in Lake Accotink Park, accompanied by the sounds of spring peepers, wood frogs, and birds.|
But now that the pipeline project – which would include five acres of cleared woods in Wakefield Park – has been somewhat more fleshed out, there is concern about environmental damage.
|Erosion along Accotink Creek.|
According to FAC, this project would remove forested habitats, damage wetlands, impede floodwater flows, and block the movement of wildlife. It will be a “hideous eyesore, negating the aesthetic value of retaining the full lake.”
County officials and environmentally minded residents took a “pipeline tour” March 14 along the Cross County Trail to see where the pipeline might be installed and how the project could affect the habitat of Lake Accotink Park.
Related story: County proposes $30.5 million plan to save Lake Accotink
The group – about 30 people in all – included Braddock Supervisor James Walkinshaw, staff from the Fairfax County stormwater department and Park Authority; members of FACC and Friends of Accotink Lake, naturalists, and people who live nearby.
|Braddock Supervisor James Walkinshaw (center) listens to community members' concerns about the pipeline project.|
The pipeline will carry the sediment two miles to a pad site somewhere in Wakefield Park where it will be “dewatering.” The dried-out material will then be hauled away by truck.
The pipeline project was approved by the Board of Supervisors after a study of several alternatives to repair the sediment-choked lake. If nothing is done, the lake would eventually disappear. The pipeline project would restore the lake to an eight-foot average depth.
The goal of both the county and the community is “to have the dredging done in a way that has the least environmentally and socially negative impact,” said Smith.
Philip Latasa of FAC urged the county to raise the pipeline a few increase off the ground so as not to impede the movement of small animals, such as frogs, toads, and salamanders. Larger animals, like foxes, could jump over it.
|Lake Accotink is filling up with sediment.|
The county also hasn’t determined where the pipeline would end and where the dewatering pad should be built. That site could not be a in flood zone; would have to be accessible to trucks, a crane, and heavy equipment; and couldn’t be too close to the power lines, Smith said.
Construction could start in 2022 at the earliest and would take three years, he said.
The first dredging is expected to remove 350,000 cubic yards of sediment from the lake. The subsequent dredging would most likely remove half as much sediment. Smith hopes it could be 10 years between dredgings, but that depends on how many big storms there are.
FAC prefers a less intrusive dredging operation, with a shorter or rerouted pipeline, even if it results in a smaller lake
|An erosion control project in Wakefield Park.|
The Ravensworth Farm community, which is adjacent to Lake Accotink Park, was built in 1961, before stormwater controls were required, Walkinshaw noted. “That’s a good example of what we’re dealing with across the county.”
Walkinshaw hopes the entire lake won’t have to be closed during the dredging. The trails and marina area would remain open, although parts of the park might have to close during construction of the pipeline. The pipeline would be removed between dredging operations.
Smith and other county leaders plan to meet with environmental and community groups this year to hear their concerns.
To fund the pipeline project, Fairfax County is applying for a $30 million state loan. The county plans to apply for the loan in July, and should hear whether it’s approved by the end of the year, Walkinshaw said. Loan repayments would come from the county’s stormwater fees.
Related story: Supervisors approve funding plan for Lake Accotink
Another project to start soon is construction of an elevated walkway below the dam, Walkinshaw said. That area tends to flood, and thus becomes hazardous for pedestrians.
In a separate but related issue, the Park Authority is restarting the process to revise the Lake Accotink Park Master Plan. The plan will address what should happen to the park in 10, 20, and 30 years. A community meeting on the Master Plan originally scheduled for March 31 has been postponed.