Lake Pasbehegh

General:  Lake Pasbehegh is a beautiful, treasured asset that benefits our entire neighborhood.  The Lake is owned by the GFCA and all members in good standing are allowed to use the lake, but it falls on those of us who live on the lake to take care of this wonderful resource.

Here are some general rules, a little bit of background on the lake and answers to some frequently asked questions.

Fertilize Smart - First, please access the following link to learn more about how we can more responsibly fertilize our lawns and gardens, including information on how to receive an inexpensive soil test.  Although there are many factors that affect algal and plant blooms on the lake, none impacts the water more than runoff from lawns and gardens.  (Thanks to Ruth Larson for the link)
Boats - No gas operated boats are allowed on the lake.  All other boats should have a GFCA sticker on them to show that the member has paid his or her dues.  There is no boat storage available at the access point on the dam.

Fishing - The lake has great fishing and we encourage catch and release.  You will find shad, sunfish, bass, pickerel, crappie, huge carp, catfish, perch and other species.  All fishermen must be licensed.

Water Quality
- We have the water tested periodically (next time is in April) by the scientists at W&M and the tests generally show the same results:  the water is safe, with no E-Coli, but suffers from nitrogen run-off in the Spring and excessive algae growth which can lead to 'dead zones' of low oxygen toward the bottom in the summer. The lake is about 10' deep in the middle.  In the summer the water 'turns over', which changes the color of the water.

History - The lake was formed in the early 1960's by damming a tidal stream that ran from the James up into the woods.  When the lots were cleared to build homes, the trees were thrown into the stream gulch.  This means there are hundreds of trees and other organic material in the bottom of the lake which gives life to an algal mat that floats up in the summer and then dies off and floats down in the winter.

Dam and Spillway
- The main Dam was constructed with stumps and fill dirt and has sunk several feet over the years.  James City County owns a pump 'lift' station on the dam and a small bit of land on which it is located.  The Spillway is a pair of tubes that runs under The Maine, just before you get to Powie Circle.  We have just completed a repair on the lakeside of the Spillway to address an erosion issue.  The county split the expense of this repair with us.

Carp - We purchased a couple of hundred sterile grass carp about 10 years ago, which have grown to impressive size.  The carp only eat the millfoil, duckweek and hydrofoil.  Neither the carp nor any other animal that we are aware of will eat the fibrous algae that floats up from the murky depths.

Algae - Short of utilizing a herbicide like copper sulfate (which is expensive and bad for the environment), there is no way to control the fibrous algae that grows in mats on the lake in the summer.  We know that nitrogen run-off contributes to excessive algae growth, as does pet waste run-off and leaf litter that settles to the bottom.  Some neighbors manually harvest the algae using a rake and a jon boat.

Trees - If a tree on your property falls in the lake, please arrange for it to be removed.  We do not have the budget or the manpower to remove trees that fall in the lake.

Leaves - Do not blow leaves into the lake.  The leaves settle on the bottom and encourage the growth of the algal mat.

Pet Waste - Please clean up after your pets on a regular basis.  Pet waste pollutes the lake and encourages algae growth.

Silt - Lake Pasbehegh serves as a storm water collection basin for hundreds of homes, including those not in the GFCA like Berkeley's Green and Fernbrook.  The Lake is slowly filling in with silt and this means that the fingers of the lake can turn to mud when the water level drops.  The only long term solution to this is to dredge the lake, which is beyond our capabilities as a volunteer homeowners association.  We have begun discussions with James City County to address this issue.

Water level
- There is very little we can do to raise the water level of the lake within our budget. We are studying the possibility of installing a coffer dam by the Spillway so that we can control the water level, preserve our aging drainage tubes in the spillway and facilitate the removal of debris which becomes critical (and dangerous) when there is a hurricane or tropical storm.

Periodically the neighborhood engages with the biology department at William and Mary to collect water samples (and soon depth readings) from the lake. In return, we make a small donation to the department. Please see the latest sample results here:  

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