Dayton Waiting For New Water Proposal From Harrisonburg

Town’s Short-Term Lease To Go Before City Council Tuesday

Posted: July 18, 2014

The Silver Lake Mill and farm buildings are reflected in the glassy surface of Silver Lake Thursday afternoon. Dayton’s water rights contract for Silver Lake, which is owned by the city of Harrisonburg, is set to expire Aug. 1. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)

In about two weeks, the 99-year contract that gives Dayton first rights to the water in Silver Lake will expire.

Harrisonburg purchased the lake north of the Dayton town limits in 1945, and with it came the longtime water rights agreement that Dayton had acquired from the previous owners.

But the town’s access to Silver Lake’s water after Aug. 1 is still being worked out.

“The city of Harrisonburg has a new proposal, but they have not shared the details with us,” said Jason Ham, Dayton’s town attorney.

While the town waits for a permanent proposal, a six-month lease for Dayton to continue using the water in Silver Lake will go before Harrisonburg City Council on Tuesday night.

If approved, Dayton will have a temporary fix while the town and the city work out a long-term solution.

In 2013, Dayton drew between 13 million and 26 million gallons of water per month from Silver Lake, never paying the city more than $125 per month.

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 addition to Silver Lake, Dayton draws water from two local wells.

“This agreement has been in place since 1915, and our director of public utilities wanted to come up with a more holistic approach instead of just how much we’re going to charge and how much the town is willing to pay,” said Chris Brown, Harrisonburg’s city attorney. “We took into consideration what the long-term effect would be on the city’s resources and ways the towns could handle their water needs in the future.”

Harrisonburg Public Utilities Director Mike Collins previously said that Silver Lake could add 1.5 million gallons a day to the city during times of drought, and up to 4.5 million gallons a day in wet weather.

Brown said the city has nearly completed an early version of the long-term proposal.

“We’ll get a draft over to the Dayton office in the next few days, hopefully,” he said.

Harrisonburg City Council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Council Chambers.

Contact Megan Applegate at 574-6286 or

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