Reservoirs and Recreation


Kayaking on the South Fork Rivanna River

What is a reservoir?

Simply put, a reservoir is a man-made lake built by constructing a dam in order to supply potable water to people.

These lakes are so scenic, so beautiful that we tend to forget their primary purpose. First and foremost their purpose is to supply people’s essential need for clean, safe, water for drinking, fire protection, manufacturing, agriculture, swimming pools, cups of coffee, and many other uses for our community.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want folks to enjoy the recreational aspects.

Therefore, we work in close cooperation with various agencies including the City and County Parks and Recreation Departments whose primary role is recreational land use and management. We rely on the city and the county to include responsible stewardship policies and enforcement practices to protect our water supply.

Rivanna’s “Authority”

In general, the local government entities actually own the reservoir and the border around it. We, as the water infrastructure folks at Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, own the assets and lease the rights to the water so we can manage, monitor, treat the water in order to provide it 24/7. We do not make recreational land use decisions.


City Of Charlottesville

  • South Fork
  • Sugar Hollow
  • Ragged Mountain (Ragged Mountain Natural Area is a City park)

Albemarle County

  • Beaver Creek (County park)
  • Totier Creek (County park)
  • Chris Greene Lake is Albemarle County park that serves as an emergency water supply.

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

Owns the water rights or legal right to manage, monitor, treat, and ultimately provide the water to the community that we impound at our reservoirs. We also own all the physical infrastructure that is necessary to do that (i.e the pipes, treatment plants, intake towers, dams, gauges, etc). We also own  the North Rivanna River intake and Lickinghole Basin (a stormwater basin).

Reservoir information sheets: “Get to know your reservoir” or visit: 



Totter Park located near Scottsville in Albemarle County, Va. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff

Totier Park located near Scottsville in Albemarle County, Va. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff

Reservoir Recreations

It is important to remember that you are recreating in a water supply and to follow the rules written into the Albemarle County code and the Charlottesville City Code.

If you’d like to see these rules changed based on your recreational needs, contact your local Parks and Recreation department or your local officials who help create public policy:

County Parks and Recreation at 434-296-5844
City Parks and Recreation at 434-970-3260


Swimming is NOT allowed in our water supply reservoirs; this includes pets.


Fishing is allowed in all of our reservoirs. Our reservoirs are stocked with various fish by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Fishing licenses are issued by Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Hiking and Running

Hiking and running are allowed on the trails at Ragged Mountain Reservoir and Totier Creek Reservoir.

Bird Watching

Bird watching is allowed in and around our reservoirs.


Kayakers and Paddle Boarders at South Fork Rivanna Reservoir


GAS-POWERED boats are NOT allowed at any of our reservoirs.

Kayaking and canoeing are allowed at South Fork Rivanna, Ragged Mountain, Beaver Creek, and Totier Creek without a special permit. Boating, of any kind, is NOT allowed at Sugar Hollow due to safety concerns.

Paddle Boarding

Paddle-boarding is allowed at Beaver Creek, South Fork, Totier Creek, and Ragged Mountain.

Other activities

Hunting, trapping, littering, and dumping are prohibited.

Reporting Issues

If you see or believe there are issues in any of our reservoirs (pollution, trash, algae, dead fish, or safety concerns), please contact Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority at 434-977-2970 or email

Beaver Creek Reservoir at Sunrise. Photo taken by Erik Hultgren.

Additional Resources

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Shenandoah National Park

Rivanna Stormwater Education Partnership

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Albemarle County Parks and Recreation

City Parks and Recreation