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Monday Morning Notes

RTC West+ — JBG Smith plans major additions to RTC West, which, for now, is essentially an office park with a touch of retail. [Washington Business Journal]

Death ruled a drowning – An autopsy determined that Kevin Ruby’s cause of death was drowning, with the contributing cause of cardiovascular disease. Ruby drowned during a popular race on Lake Audubon in late May. [Fairfax County Police Department]

First PRC work session tomorrow — The first workgroup meeting regarding transportation as the county considers a plan to increase Reston’s population density is set for tomorrow at 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive. [Reston Today]

Twitter user @MrErrett

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Reston Association Working Group Kicks of Meetings on Lakes, Docks and Boats

A Reston Association working group created to analyze rules governing lakes, docks and boats kicked off it meetings on June 13 (Wednesday).

RA’s board of directors formed the group on March 22 in response to residents’ concerns about outdated boating policies, enforcement issues and overall usage of local lakes. The group will provide recommendations to the board in November.

During the first meeting, members received information on Reston’s lakes, as well as the type and number of boats and docks currently allowed.

The group’s objectives include identification of the environmental impact of docks and boats, a review of current rules and policies and whether or not rules infringe on lakeside property owners’ use of their properties.

The presentation given to the working group is linked here.

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Swimmer Dies at Annual Lake Swim in Lake Audubon

The body of a 45-year-old swimmer was recovered Monday afternoon from Lake Audubon.

Kevin Ruby was competing in the 31st annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim when a family member noticed he was missing for more than an hour. Ruby finished a one-mile race but never showed up at the end of race two, which covers two miles.

Police believe Ruby may have drowned. Foul play is not suspected and a medical examiner will determine the cause of death, police said.

More than 600 people participated in the event. Swimmers wore bracelets, which were used to check in and out of the event. Event organizers were not immediately available for comment.

Remi Currell, who was a guard at the event, said the event was handled professionally.

“This sort of accident is not exclusive to our race. There is no way to completely [foolproof] this type of event, and the only way I can think of making it safer is to have one lifeguard per person, which is impossible.”

Police and fire and rescue personnel searched the area from Sunday noon through the night. The helicopter-assisted search resumed Monday. Ruby’s body was found around 12:45 p.m. that day.

Nearly three years ago, a 63-year-old man participating in the swim died after losing consciousness during the event.

The event happens at a Reston Association lake, but is organized by the Reston Masters Swim Team.

The team issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

Reston Masters is honored to have had Mr. Ruby compete at our Jim McDonnell Lake Swims for many years. He was a very talented top finisher. Earlier Sunday morning Mr. Ruby won his age group in the 1-mile race with a time of 23:38.

As part of all our races, Fairfax County on-water EMS staff are an integral part of our operations. We are especially grateful for the timely and extensive additional support from Fairfax County Police and Fairfax County Fire & Rescue.

Please join Reston Masters in keeping Kevin Ruby in our hearts and memories as an accomplished distance swimmer.

Photo by Fairfax County Police Department and Jessica Peachey

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31st Annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim Returns to Lake Audubon

The Reston Masters Swim Team will host the 31st annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim on Sunday at Lake Audubon.

The swim has been held every Memorial Day weekend since 1988, according to the team’s website. In 1999, it was named in honor of McDonnell, a founding member of the team who was on the committee that first organized the swim. McDonnell died from lymphoma in 2016.

Reston Masters is excited to host the 2018 U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) Middle Distance Open Water National Championship,” said Reston Masters President Brian Evans. “Our 2-mile swim is the kickoff race of the USMS championship series and we are ready to deliver a top-notch, well-organized experience for JMLS competitors.”

Up to 200 swimmers will vie for national champion status. Swimmers take part in a two-mile open water loop around Lake Audubon. This year, two visually impaired swimmers are competing, along with a young woman trying to qualify for the U.S. Special Olympics

A practice swim will take place on Saturday.

Proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to Lymphoma charities. In the past, recipients have included Herndon-Reston Fish, Inc. and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

More information about the event is available online.

Here’s more about the event from the organizers:

Swimmers of all abilities compete every year. This year’s field includes elite swimmers like 66-year old Shirley Loftus-Charley, a USMS All-American and All-Stars champion and record holder, who is competing in her 31st consecutive JMLS.

Swimmers in the 30-34 year age group will be watching out for distance swimmer and triathlete Shannon Greene. Shannon has placed first in the 1-mile race three times, and has taken first in the 2-mile twice.

“You can expect to see some fast swim times,” said Evans.

One swimmer is hoping to score a qualifying time to compete with Special Olympics USA, and two visually impaired swimmers are also taking on the challenge.

Competitors will swim counter-clockwise around buoys over a 1-mile course. Those swimming the 2-mile race will make the trip twice.

Photo by Ryan Dawson

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Walker Nature Center’s Spring Festival Returns Next Week

The Walker Nature Center’s Spring Festival is back next week, featuring a recycling clown magic show, crafts for kids, and live entertainment.

The free event will be held May 5 from 1-5 p.m. Song Garden, Hickory Grove, and other artists will perform acoustic music live throughout the festival.

There will be $5, half hour canoe and kayak rentals at Lake Audubon, as well as fishing activities, a native plant sale, and information from local environmental groups.

The entertainment schedule is as follows:

  • 1:30-2 p.m. — Blue Sky Puppet Theater: The Three Green Pigs
  • 2:45-3:30 p.m. — Teddy the Recycling Clown: Magic Show
  • 4-4:45 p.m. — Reptiles Alive: Live Animal Show

Parking will be available at Glade and Soapstone Drives as well as at Glade Pool.

Photo courtesy of Reston Association

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What’s Going On Around Reston This Weekend?

Things are going to get colorful this weekend at Reston Town Center.

Public Art Reston’s fourth annual ChalkFest kicks off today with professional artists beginning their work, but the big day for the event is Saturday. That’s when, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the event is open to artists of all ages and talents.

Categories for participants are amateur ($15 registration fee), families and kids ($15), and professional ($20). Registration can be done online through today, or at the event Saturday morning.

That’s just one of many events going on around the area this weekend, though. This is officially the last weekend of summer, as the autumnal equinox comes a week from today and brings with it the fall season. The weather forecast calls for plenty of sun and temperatures in the 80s all weekend, though there are chances of a few afternoon showers.

Have fun out there!

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • The JamBrew series continues tonight in Herndon. Aslin Beer Co. will be pouring frosty mugs, Weird Brothers Coffee will be offering tasty drinks, Nordic Knot Pretzels will provide tasty snacks, and there will be much more. Live music will be offered from DJ Ragz, The DuskWhales and JUXT. The free event is slated for 6-10 p.m. at the Herndon Town Green (777 Lynn St.).
  • Speaking of Aslin Beer Co., it will be celebrating its two-year anniversary Saturday at 771 Elden St., which will become its permanent home in the coming months. The event, slated for noon to 6 p.m., will feature dozens of guest breweries along with food trucks, live music and much more. General admission is $35, which includes an anniversary glass and five 6-ounce pours.
  • There will be an improv show, presented by Reflex Improv, tonight from 8-9:30 p.m. at Café Montmartre (1625 Washington Plaza).
  • Traditional music trio Lulu’s Fate will perform Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.). Tickets are $15.
  • Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
  • The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
  • Lake Anne is also hosting Sunday Yoga on the Plaza each week, at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Herndon Kids Triathlon is scheduled for Sunday at 8 a.m. at the Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave.). Registration for the event is full; however, volunteers are still needed to help.
  • The Susco 8K and 2K fun run, to promote brain aneurysm and organ donation awareness, will take place Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at South Lakes High School. Registration ($40 for the 8K, $25 for the 2K) can be done the morning of the event.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will host Kevin Patti from Clara Barton National Historic Site (National Parks Service) from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. He will present “Between the Bullet and the Hospital,” using photos from the Civil War era to explore the dangers Barton faced and the accomplishments she achieved.
  • Explore the history of Lake Audubon on a guided canoe/kayak exploration from 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday. No experience is necessary, and all equipment (including canoes and kayaks) will be provided. Cost is $10 for RA members and $12 for non-members.
  • Curiosity Day at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.), Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include an appearance by Curious George himself, story time, crafts and more.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winner display “Disgraced,” exploring Muslim assimilation and identity in America, will be performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) tonight at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m.; and at a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets range in price from $17.50 to $55. A package experience for the Sunday matinee that includes brunch at PassionFish (11960 Democracy Drive) is available.
  • Floris United Methodist Church (13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon) will present a concert of Christian music through the decades from 5-8 p.m. Sunday. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in an outfit from their favorite decade.
  • Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include: Vinifera Wine Bar and Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive) from 7-10 p.m every Friday and Saturday night; Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m.
  • Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music from Rusty Cage tonight from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits during those hours Saturday night.
  • Musician Patty Reese will be performing Saturday from 8-11 p.m. at The Tasting Room Wine Bar and Shop (1816 Library St.).
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In Denying Covenants Appeal on Boat Length, RA Board Says It Must Follow Deed

Adrian Hollands knew “Orca,” the 20-foot pontoon boat he bought from his Lake Chapel Lane neighbor, is longer than what is allowed on Reston’s lakes per the Reston Deed.

His covenants appeal that was brought before the Reston Association Board of Directors last week (video) failed after a lengthy discussion that delved into conversation about how closely the Board should adhere to the Deed.

“The Deed was written so many years ago that every now and again, we should probably be looking through the Deed and saying, ‘What doesn’t make sense anymore?'” Board President Sherri Hebert said. “[But] it’s not as easy as just taking a vote to change our Deed and change those rules. It’s a pretty complicated process.”

CEO Cate Fulkerson said that in 2003, the section of the Deed regarding boats was considered in advance of the referendum to amend the Deed, which took place in 2006.

“As opposed to eliminating this particular covenant, it was actually strengthened to include the width of the boats,” Fulkerson said. “That was considered and put to community comment.”

Section VI.2(b)(9) of the Reston Deed states that “[e]xcept for emergencies or Association authorized maintenance, no boats greater than eighteen feet in overall length and ten feet in overall width and no boats powered by or equipped with internal combustion engines shall be allowed on the lakes.”

In 2008, seven property owners whose boats were longer than 18 feet were issued nontransferable grandfather exemptions. When Hollands purchased “Orca” from his neighbor, the Covenants Committee said, the exemption for that boat was invalidated.

Hollands, who said the cost of modifying the boat for compliance would be more than $5,000, provided the Board with 36 signed petitions from Lake Audubon neighbors who had no issue with his boat being 20 feet in length. Hollands said while no one seems sure why the Deed sets the limit at 18 feet, he has heard it comes from 18-foot townhouse widths on Lake Anne.

“Suffice it to say that I don’t know how Reston Association or RHOA at the time came up with this rule,” Hollands said in a written comment provided to the Board, “but as with many rules, laws and regulations, they are well intended but not necessarily the right course of action.”

RA member Irwin Flashman addressed the Board and said he feared that if it begins picking and choosing which parts of the Deed to follow and to ignore based on convenience, it would lose all credibility and legal standing.

“If you fail to enforce your covenants, you risk the next time you go to court, having the court say, ‘Oh, but you don’t enforce it yourself and you’re asking the court to do that?” he said. “It would undercut the Reston Association’s authority and this Board’s authority.”

Each Board director spoke on the issue, most agreeing that while Hollands’ plight is unfortunate and he made good points, it is important to abide by the rules set in the Deed and not become a “court.”

“I hate this, because it’s a dumb, arbitrary number,” said At-Large Director Eric Carr. “[But] it would take us down a slippery slope, where when somebody doesn’t want to enforce something, they’re going to say ‘You chose not to enforce this in the past because you thought it was dumb.'”

At-Large Director Ray Wedell, however, said what should be of the most importance to everybody is to “adhere [to] common sense and what’s in the best interest in the community.”

“To say that somehow we have to be the guardians of this strict rule written 50-some-odd years ago on each and every issue or else … is opening us up to incredible bureaucracy,” he said. “I think we use the Deed as a crutch to never do anything sometimes.”

The covenants appeal was denied by a vote of 8-1, with Wedell casting the lone dissenting vote.

“I’m proud to be the one,” he said at the conclusion of the vote.

The Board took legal counsel in executive session to further discuss the process of considering changes to the Deed.

Image via Reston Association

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Sediment Levels To Be Surveyed in Lake Audubon, Lake Thoreau

Sediment levels in Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau will be checked later this month.

The lakes will be surveyed by Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc. to measure their sediment levels. Reston Association says the surveys will help the budget the funds needed to dredge the lakes over the next two years.

Nicki Bellezza, RA’s watershed manager, is responsible for monitoring, managing and maintaining the association’s lakes, ponds, streams and watersheds. Anyone with questions about the surveying process is encouraged to email her.

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30th Annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim Takes Over Lake Audubon

The Reston Masters Swim Team hosted the 30th Annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim on Sunday at Lake Audubon.

According to the team’s website, the swim — which has been held every Memorial Day weekend since 1988 — was renamed in honor of McDonnell in 1999. McDonnell, a founding member of the team who was on the committee that first organized the swim, died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma the previous year.

More than 700 swimmers participate each year, according to the team, which makes the event the largest open-water swim in the region. Proceeds from this year’s event were donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation and to Herndon-Reston FISH Inc.

Results from the event can be viewed here.

Photos courtesy Ryan Dawson

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Update: Cedar Cove Stream Restoration Project Underway

Stream erosion near Lake Audubon/Credit: RA

Reston Association has started work on a stream restoration project that will ease erosion and fix exposed sewage pipes in the area behind Cedar Cove cluster.

In the summer of 2015, one of the exposed pipes leaked sewage into Lake Audubon. A quick fix stopped the spill, but RA has since advocated for Fairfax County money since part of the problem is being caused by runoff from South Lakes High School, which sits uphill and across South Lakes Drive from Cedar Cove.

RA says Fairfax County will provide the money for the project, which will cost about $1 million.

Years of runoff have caused eight sewer lines to be exposed, which some residents called an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Spray paint and flagging tape are now in place marking various points within the stream.

This week, the county’s Watershed Projects Implementation Branch will begin drilling. A drill rig will be brought in between 2242 and 2244 Cedar Cove Court and drive along the tree line (avoiding backyards) to each of the locations to be tested.

A different method of testing is also expected to occur at some points on the Wakerobin Lane side of the creek, officials said.

Want more information? There will be a project kick-off meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at South Lakes High School, room 150.

Project engineers, along with other officials and Reston Association representatives, will be in attendance.

Photos: Erosion has left pipes exposed near Lake Audubon/Credit: Reston Association.

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Sunday: 33rd Annual Reston Triathlon

2016 Reston Triathlon medal/Credit: Reston Triathlon

The Reston Triathlon returns to the streets, trails, track and Lake Audubon on Sunday.

The race is in its 33rd year, born in 1984, when triathlons were a relatively new pursuit. This year’s field includes close to 500 participants who will swim just under a mile, bike 24.86 miles and then run 6.22 miles (10K).

There will be no parking at Lake Audubon on race day. Race officials also say any vehicles parked on Twin Branches near the Lake Audubon Pool will be towed.

The best plan for racers is drive to and park at South Lakes High School/Langston Hughes Middle School and drop off  bike/run transition gear at South Lakes High School and ride your bike to the lake. All athletes should plan to be at the lake and ready to swim no later than 6:30 a.m.

Spectators should also park at the schools. It is also possible to park at South Lakes Village Center and then walk the three blocks down Twin Branches to watch the swim portion.

Streets on the cycling course will not be shut down, but lanes will be closed and police and volunteers will be directing traffic. Allow for extra time if you have to be somewhere during the race.

Affected streets include: Colts Neck Road, Sunrise Valley Drive, Soapstone Drive, South Lakes Drive, Twin Branches Road, Glade Drive, Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road. Visit the Reston Triathlon website for course maps.

The triathlon’s finish line is at the South Lakes High School stadium. There will be post-race refreshments, entertainment and awards.

The weather forecast is fairly hot for Reston in September. It will be sunny and about 60 degrees at the race start, with temperatures warning up to 82 degrees as the race continues.

For more history, statistics and other Reston Triathlon information, visit the official Reston Triathlon website.

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Reston Association Implores County to Fix Exposed Sewer Line

Sewer pipe near Cedar Cove/reader photoReston Association’s Board of Directors has asked Fairfax County Supervisors Sharon Bulova to fund a stream restoration and sanitary sewer line stabilization and maintenance project near Lake Audubon “as soon as possible.”

The county is in the process of formulating its Fiscal Year 2017 budget, and RA President Ellen Graves says that repair costs to the sewer line — owned by the county but exposed and presenting an environmental danger to Reston residents — need to be included.

The problem has been exacerbated, RA says, by runoff from FCPS’ South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School, which sit uphill from the erosion site behind Wakerobin Lane and Cedar Cove Cluster.

“This is a unique situation, which warrants a quick response from the County, the Wastewater Management System, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Reston Association,” Graves wrote in a recent letter to Bulova, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and other county officials.

A presentation at the January RA Board meeting showed that erosion has contributed to the exposure of eight sewer lines in the hillside leading from South Lakes Drive to Lake Audubon.

RA’s land use attorney John McBride called the situation “a health hazard waiting to happen,”and compared the issue to recent events in Flint, Mich., where a money-saving effort to change the water supply resulted in dangerous lead contamination.

The exposure of the pipes earned emergency notice last summer, when one began leaking sewage downhill into Lake Audubon. The pipe was fixed enough to quell the spill, but Graves says that was just a temporary stop.

“The only way to properly prevent another spill of human excrement into the drainage channel and Lake Audubon is to perform this stream restoration and sewer line rehabilitation project, which places these lines where they should be — underground,”Graves wrote. “The crisis in Flint, Michigan, teaches us that being budget conscious should not delay the maintenance of basic health infrastructure.”

Repairs to the outfall channel are estimated to be about $1 million, RA officials estimated at the January meeting.

Adding concern is a planned 40,000-square-foot addition for South Lakes High School. Fairfax County Public School officials said the addition does not have to follow updated environmental rules and is grandfathered in under older ones.

RA said it also will ask FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza and the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services to not approve the pending SLHS site plan “until a stable, non-erosive and adequate outfall is restored in the drainage channel.”

The board also authorized allocating up to $20,000 from its operating reserves fund to conduct an independent audit of the waterflow and mitigation measures and to use the results to research the validity of FCPS’ waiver of stormwater management/ best management practices.

RA Letter Storm Sewer Emergency Funding Request

Photo of exposed sewer line behind Wakerobin Lane/Reader contribution

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Here’s Why Lake Audubon is Looking Green

Lake Audubon on Wednesday

Lake Audubon is looking a little green.

A Reston Now reader asked about the lake condition, so we inquired with Reston Association’s Senior Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, and Nikki Bellazza, RA’s Watershed Manager.

The green is blue-green algae, says Butler.

“It will disappear once  two things happen, which may or may not be simultaneous — when the water temps cool or their nutrient source (recently buffeted by the rain) runs out,” said Butler.

Bellazza said samples have been taken.

Blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) are single-celled organisms that naturally exist in fresh or salt waters. They use sunlight to make their food. When there are a lot of nutrients available in the water, the bacteria can grow rapidly or “bloom” to form a visible film or scum on the surface of the water, says this information page from the Virginia Department of Health.

The algae can cause illness if ingested.

The issue is not from the summer sewage pipe break, which leaked briefly leaked sewage into Lake Audubon and kept people off the lake, officials said. It is also not the same flotsam that has recently been identified at Lake Newport.

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RA: Lake Audubon Water Quality is Safe for Boating

lake audubon

(Update, Friday 2:30 p.m.) — Reston Association says the Lake Audubon water has been tested and it is now OK to go boating and paddleboarding.

A sanitary sewer pipe leaked into Lake Audubon on Monday. County water officials fixed the pipe Tuesday, but on Thursday RA told residents to stay off the lake until testing was finished.

RA removed temporary caution signs around the lake on Friday after test results showed no hazardous levels of bacteria in water.

Original story: Reston Association officials are asking residents to “restrict recreational activities” on Lake Audubon until further testing of the water can be done.

Sewer pipe near Cedar Cove/reader photoEarlier this week, a sanitary sewer pipe located between Wakerobin Lane and Cedar Cove Court was discovered to be draining into Lake Audubon. The pipe was fixed by Fairfax County Wastewater management on Tuesday.

Signs have been posted around the lake cautioning people to stay off.

“Until further assessments of water quality and potential clean-up are completed by the county, recreational use (boating and fishing) at the lake is restricted,” says RA. “As always, residents are being asked to abide by RA’s regulations that prohibit swimming in any of Reston’s four lakes.”

Meanwhile, a Cedar Cove resident reports the pipe is fixed, but the sewage smell “and a white film” remains in the creek leading to the lake.

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Quick Fix Stops Sewage From Draining Into Lake Audubon

Reston Association

Update: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday – A permanent repair was completed Tuesday afternoon, Reston Association says.

Reston Association and Fairfax County Wastewater Management are working on a permanent fix for a leaky sewer pipe near Lake Audubon.

The sanitary sewer pipe located between Wakerobin Lane and Cedar Cove Court was discovered to be draining into Lake Audubon on Monday afternoon, RA spokesman Mike Leone said.

Fairfax County Wastewater Management was notified and dispatched workers to stop the leak. A temporary patch was placed by 7 p.m., and county personnel are expected to return to the site on Tuesday to determine how to permanently fix the pipe, RA says.

Testing of the water for bacteria levels will be done later this week, RA says. Residents are being asked to abide by RA’s regulations that prohibit swimming in any of Reston’s four lakes.

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