Lake Gaston Mitigation Site….Revisited

By MAP Environmental Inc. | March 1, 2024

Earlier this month members of the MAP team conducted a day long visit of various projects in Hampton Roads. The day long trip included major projects with wetlands permitting and mitigation implications.

One of the key projects is the Lake Gaston Water Supply (Pipeline) Project – arguably the most iconic, celebrated and regionally important endeavor in Hampton Roads over the past half century.

As a point of reference, the City of Virginia Beach (CVB) completed the 76-mile pipeline, from Lake Gaston (Brunswick County) to Lake Prince (Suffolk), which became operational in the Fall 1997.  This major utility conveys over 60 million gallons of water per day to residents in South Hampton Roads.   

As part of the Federal regulatory process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) authorized CVB to construct the project, subject to the establishment of a wetlands mitigation site in the service area.  The selected mitigation site – a 12.5-acre prior converted cropland in Isle of Wight County – was established in Winter 1997.   Work involved the plugging of agricultural drainage tiles, minimal grading, and planting of 400 trees and 150 shrubs.  The wetlands restoration site was planted in Winter 1997, later monitored for wetlands hydrology and vegetation, and ultimately deemed successful by the ACOE.    

Visting the site nearly a quarter of a century later, revealed a thriving, seasonally saturated, forested wetland with an assortment of deciduous and needle leaf evergreen species.  Many of the originally planted species, including the various tree shelters (and their remnants) remain vibrant and visible to this day.  The site, as shown below, continues to provide and support a variety of important wetlands values and functions.