I'm buying a house on the reservoir. What do I need to know?

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.

Show All Answers

1. I'm buying a house on the reservoir. What do I need to know?
2. What lakes are owned by Norfolk and where are they located?
3. Does the City own other property around the reservoirs?
4. Is this property an easement?
5. Can I use the property?
6. What about fertilizers and other lawn care products?
7. Can I remove trees and underbrush near the water?
8. There are trees in the lake. Are they bad for the water?
9. Can I do anything to protect the shoreline from erosion?
10. Are boats allowed in the lake?
11. Can I launch a boat from my back yard?
12. Can I use a motorized boat? If so, what size motor can I use?
13. What uses are permitted in the lake?
14. Are there special requirements to boat on a City of Norfolk Reservoir?
15. How much does a boat permit cost?
16. How long is the boat permit good for?
17. Is the price of the boat permit pro-rated if I buy it later in the year?
18. Where can I purchase a boat permit?
19. Where can I purchase a daily permit?
20. What is the cost of a daily permit? Can I buy it ahead of time?
21. How long does it take to receive a boat permit?
22. What lakes can I operate my boat in with the Norfolk boat permit?
23. Where can I launch my boat?
24. Do I need a boat permit if I only have a canoe or kayak?
25. If I lose my boat permit, will I need to purchase a new one? If so, will it be the same price as the original?
26. Can I remove my old permit from my old boat if I purchase a new one and use it on the new one?
27. What is required to get a boat permit?