City OKs Short-Term Deal For Silver Lake

Posted: July 23, 2014

HARRISONBURG — City Council on Tuesday approved a six-month agreement for the town of Dayton’s use of Silver Lake, buying time for a permanent compromise.

A 99-year contract that gives the town first rights to the water from the Harrisonburg-owned site north of Dayton expires Aug. 2. When the city purchased the 10-acre lake in 1945 from a local couple, Dayton’s longtime rights to the water transferred with it.

The new agreement, which heads to Dayton Town Council for approval, calls for the first 1.5 million gallons of water per day to be available to the city, upon notice to the town. Dayton would otherwise be allowed to withdraw water, as it does now.

Silver Lake is the Dayton’s primary source of water for residents and businesses, supplemented by two wells.

The agreement protects Harrisonburg in drought conditions or if other city water sources — Switzer Dam, which flows into Dry River to a valve at Rawley Springs, and North River in Bridgewater — falter, city officials say.

“It’s smart to recognize this is a major city asset,” Councilman Abe Shearer said. “You don’t want to sell yourself short.”

The pact also increases what the city charges Dayton. The existing agreement is structured so Dayton pays on a decreasing scale for water used per day, starting with 50 cents for the first 50,000 gallons.

In February, Harrisonburg Public Utilities Director Mike Collins said Dayton had drawn between 13 million and 26 million gallons of water a month from Silver Lake over the previous year, never paying the city more than $125 per month.

The new agreement says Dayton will pay Harrisonburg $1,100 per month for the lake’s water.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or

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