Watershed Improvement District

Background

The Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District (LBWID) had its genesis after tropical storm Agnes in June 21, 1972 washed out the earthen portion of the dam structure at the west end and left the lake as little more than glorified puddle. An ad hoc organization of almost all elements of the community was quickly formed to address the problem. Resident support was almost unanimous, but the source of funds to repair the dam was in question. Federal, state and county funds were soon eliminated as possibilities except for a Small Business Loan.


At a moment when chances seemed poor for a solution, Stuart Finley proposed the establishment of a WID, Watershed Improvement District, an entity authorized but never used under Virginia statute, which would operate under the local Soil and Water Conservation District. By establishing a WID, the district could levy taxes for its purposes – in this case, restoration of the lake – and issue bonds. As a WID, there would be three Lake Barcroft resident trustees under the Northern Virginia Soil and Water conservation District.

Several hurdles were cleared as the process moved along. Finally, two referendums were required. The first required mail-in advisory ballots to the NVS&WCD indicating approval of the proposed WID. By the end of January, 1973 892 residents had voted with a 98% approval rate. As a result, the NVS&WCD created the LBWID on January 31, 1973, and petitioned the circuit court of Fairfax County to conduct a poll that would: (1) further ratify the creation of the WID, (2) authorize a tax levy, and (3) sanction bonded indebtedness up to $2 million.

On April 24, 1973 the big day arrived for residents to vote for the LBWID. A major effort by community leaders to "get out the vote" resulted in overwhelming support for what amounted to a self imposed tax. With funding assured, work on the dam could begin. It had taken a year to of concerted effort to get to this point, and it marked the community's greatest success to date.

(For a detailed report of Hurricane Agnes and the creation of the LBWID, see Lake Barcroft History at the LBA Web Site under History and go to Chapter Nine, page 39.)