No Word Yet On Swimming In Buggs Island Lake After Coal Ash Spill

Clarksville, VA - The coal ash spill is posing a new threat to those who rely on tourism at Buggs Island Lake.

The Dan River runs into that lake just outside of Clarksville, and local leaders don't know whether the water will be safe for swimming in the months ahead.

Year after year, folks across the country flock to Clarksville for summer fun on the lake.
"Virginia Lake Festival draws anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000 people to this small town, " said Sheila Cuykendall with the Chamber of Commerce. The town's economy depends on that tourism, and that makes the Duke Energy coal ash spill that much more frightening.
"We have the largest lake in Virginia, and it's our biggest resource here. We're keeping our eye on it and right now, we just have to remain positive, " Cuykendall said.
Town Manager Jeff Jones says the effects there have been minimal. They've done testing to ensure drinking quality, but he's still waiting for a final word on swimming.
"They have not issued a warning or statement saying you can't, but there is nobody saying you can either, " said Town Manager Jeff Jones.
That word would have to come from the Army Corp. of Engineers that manages the lake.
"They are working to come up with a formal recommendation and they are not quite ready to do that at this time, " Jones said.
As the big tourism season approaches, Jones says he is confident that the shows will go on, but he wants to keep everyone - both visitors and locals - in the loop.
"One of my jobs it to make sure we get the information out and communicate and work with the state and federal agencies to make sure our people are understanding what is going on, " Jones said.
The schedule of events for Spring and Summer has not been affected, but that's subject to change based on the Army Corp. of Engineers' recommendation.