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Lake Anna in Virginia
Lake Anna, Virginia

Lake Anna is one of the largest freshwater inland lakes in the US state of Virginia. It covers an area of 13,000 acres (53 km²). Lake Anna is 72 miles (116 km) south of Washington, D.C. in Louisa and Spotsylvania counties. The lake is easy to get to from Richmond and Charlottesville. Lake Anna is one of the most popular recreational lakes in the state.


In 1829 gold was discovered in Louisa county. In the 1880s gold mining reached its peak. The Goodman gold mine is the site that later became Lake Anna. The reservoir is formed by the North Anna Dam on the North Anna River at 38°00′47″N 77°42′46″W / 38.01306°N 77.71278°W / 38.01306; -77.71278 (North Anna Dam). In 1968, Virginia Electric and Power Company (now Dominion) purchased 18,000 acres (73 km²) of farmlands in three counties along the North Anna and Pamunkey Rivers. They planned to provide clean, fresh water to cool the nuclear power generating plants at the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station next to the lake. By 1972 the lake bottom was cleared of all trees and the dam was almost finished. It was thought it would take three years to completely fill the lake. But with the additional rainfall from Hurricane Agnes, the lake was full in only 18 months. The first communities were started at about that same time. Now there are about 120 different communities on the shores of the lake. In March 1986, construction on the dam's 1 megawatt hydroelectric power plant began. The two generators went into commercial operation in December 1987.


Lake Anna is about 17 miles (27 km) long from tip to tip. It has some 200 miles (300 km) of shoreline. The lake is divided into two sides: the public side (also known as the "cold" side) and the private side (also known as the "hot" side). The public side is roughly 9,000 acres (36 km²), while the private side is roughly 4,000 acres (16 km²). The private side is formed of three main bodies of water, connected by navigable canals. The public and private sides are divided by three stone dikes. The private side has no marinas or public access ramps. Only property owners and North Anna Power Station employees have access to the waters of the private side. The public side has several marinas and boat launches, including a boat ramp at the state park. The public side sees much higher boat traffic than the private side, especially on summer weekends.

The public side is called the "cold" side because it provides water to cool the generators at the power plant. The private or "hot" side receives warm water discharge from the power plant. The private side can be much warmer than the public side, especially near the discharge point. There it can be too hot for swimming. The private side has an extended water sports season. Some water circulates back out of the private side into the public side through underground channels. As a result the public side is warmer in the southern area near the dam. In the winter, some fish move to these warmer waters.

Plans for an addition of a third reactor have raised protests from environmentalists and property owners. They fear it will increase in the water temperature and lower the water level, particularly on the private side. According to Dominion, the water discharged from the plant is usually about 14 degrees F warmer than the intake water.

North Anna Dam

North Anna Dam

The dam creating the lake, North Anna Dam, is a 5,000 ft (1,524 m) long and 90 ft (27 m) high earthen embankment dam. It is 30 ft (9 m) wide at its top which sits at an elevation of 265 ft (81 m) above sea level. The dam's spillway is located in the center of its body. Normal elevation for the reservoir is 250 ft (76 m). The dam's hydroelectric power plant is located on the west side of the spillway. It is supplied with water via a 5 ft (2 m) diameter penstock. It has a combined installed capacity of 1 MW.


Lake Anna is one of the finest Largemouth bass fishing lakes in Virginia. Besides largemouth, there are striped bass, crappie, channel catfish, walleye and several species of sunfish. Because of the warm water and low Oxygen saturation the striped bass have to be stocked in Lake Anna. The walleye population has a similar problem and must also be stocked. Lake Anna has very good numbers of channel catfish, with many averaging 3 pounds. Because of the warm waters, Lake Anna can be fished all year long. It is a very popular recreational lake that offers boating, Water skiing and Jet Skiing. As a result, Lake Anna gets very crowded. Fishermen resort to early morning and late night fishing when all the other users are off the lake.

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