Living on one of Norfolk's drinking water reservoirs is worthwhile, but also comes with challenges and restrictions. Take some time and review the other Questions in this section.
Be aware that you are not purchasing property up to the waters edge. Norfolk owns property around each of its reservoirs and it can vary. For Lake Whitehurst and Little Creek Reservoir, the City owns 25 feet from the normal water elevation and owns 10 feet from the normal elevation for Lake Smith. Even with erosion, the City still owns this property. For Lake Lawson, Western Branch Reservoir, Lake Prince, and Burnt Mills there are fixed property lines. Check your property plat.
If the property you are purchasing has an existing bulkhead, riprap revetment, pier, fence or any other structure on Norfolk's property, you will need to secure a Shoreline Protection Permit. Even though the previous owner has a permit, it will not transfer to you. These structures come with the sale of the property and you are responsible for their upkeep and maintenance. Please note the Liability Insurance requirements and it is recommended that this be in place when you Close on the property. Not all insurance companies will include a municipality as an Additional Insured on a Homeowner Policy and you don't want to have to make a change after Closing.
If you are interested in adding a pier, shoreline protection or other structure, review the Shoreline Protection Permit application package and contact us with any questions.
We know that you would like to see the water. However, Norfolk does not allow the removal of trees and underbrush of any size without the proper permits. In many cases, we will allow the trimming of lower limbs to create a "view corridor" but not allow tree removal. Call us to discuss your proposed project before undertaking any work.
Boating and fishing are permitted, but there are limits on these activities. Swimming is prohibited! A boat, canoe, or kayak can be placed into the reservoirs with motors no larger than 10-horsepower. All boats used on Norfolk reservoirs are required to have a Norfolk Boat Permit. Types of boats that are not allowed in the reservoirs are stand up paddleboards, sailboats, houseboats, inflatables of any kind, and personal water craft (ex: jet skis), surfboards and similar devices. Don't forget that this reservoir is part of the drinking water system.
If you have more questions, email us at NorfolkReservoirs@norfolk.gov or call us at (757) 441-5678.