Bulkhead stabilization project progress report

Frank Goyette, Project Officer for our bulkhead stabilization project, filed this report for the week of June 1 – 5.

A lot was accomplished this week:

Two loads of rip rap were delivered which was more than enough to fill the two gabion baskets that have been placed between the downriver spur and the breakwater. The gabions were also wire closed.

A load of armor stone was delivered which was enough to fill the toe of the scour protection.  Seventy running feet of filter cloth was placed from the whale of the bulkhead to river bottom and eight feet outward covering the bottom of the toe.  The remainder of the riprap left over after filling the gabion baskets was placed against the base of the bulkhead forming a core of the scour protection.

Depending on available delivery, another four loads of armor stone will be delivered and installed next week.

After that is completed, the grading and building of the behind the bulkhead berm will be done followed by seeding and over laying with (straw) germination blanket.  I have purchased Bermuda grass seed that will be mixed with the contractor mix grass seed.  The contractor mix is a quick green mix which should give us cover quickly.  The Bermuda seed will germinate latter but is more salt and drought tolerant.

Joe and I have also been working on building a concrete catch basin/culvert end to insure unobstructed water flow away from the bulkhead and common area through the under road culvert and out to the creek.  We expect to finish it this week to coincide with the final grading.


Weather notice through the end of the week, May 23, 2020.

Attached is an updated briefing from National Weather Service Wakefield, VA as of  3:00 PM, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, highlighting the expected weather conditions through the end of this week, May 23.

Key highlights include:

  • Minor tidal flooding will begin with this evening’s high tide cycle, with water levels continuing to rise into Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Moderate to major tidal flooding (inundation of 2-3 feet above ground level) is expected for areas adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay and major tidal rivers beginning Wednesday and continuing through at least Thursday night. Minor to moderate tidal is expected along the Atlantic Ocean facing beaches.
  • Wind gusts of 30-40 knots/seas of 8-12 feet are expected across the coastal waters and the lower Chesapeake Bay. Winds will be strongest this afternoon through Wednesday morning.
  • High surf and large breaking waves will result in localized beach erosion along the immediate coast.
  • While widespread flooding rain is not expected locally this week, heavy rain over the mountains will eventually cause river levels to rise later in the week with some river flooding possible by this weekend.

Please continue to monitor forecasts throughout the week using the links below:



WARNING: High tides expected Tuesday, May 19 through the evening of Thursday, May 21.

Please review the tidal chart for high tides expected in our area between Tuesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 21.  Tides will be 3 to 5 feet above normal.

Also, with Tropical Storm Arthur moving out to sea along the NC-VA coast, we can expect winds out of the NE for this same period which can result in water from the Potomac overtopping some shoreline protection — bulkheads, armor stone, etc.

Click on this link; the chart is a PDF that will open in a new window.

Tide Chart 2020-05-19_0730 (3)

This chart shows locations along the Atlantic, Chesapeake, and the Potomac.  At the bottom of the chart is Lewisetta, just up the Potomac from us.  Our tides are similar to the Lewisetta tides that will range 2.7 to 4.0 feet above normal high tides.

Tropical Storm Arthur: Limited impact on our area; monitor developments

Below is a summary from National Weather Service Wakefield, VA as of  8AM EDT, Sunday, May 17th, highlighting the latest information on newly formed Tropical Storm Arthur. Please also see attached images for more information.

Key highlights include: 

  • Tropical Storm Arthur will move north over the next 24 hours, then make a sharp turn to the east just off Cape Hatteras Monday afternoon.  Overall impacts from this system on the local area will remain limited.
  • Period of greatest impact: Late Monday morning through Monday evening. 
  • Wind gusts between 30-40 mph will occur from VA Beach south through coastal NE NC.
  • Rainfall amounts up to 1″ will be possible across SE VA and NE NC.
  • Tidal Flooding/Rip Currents: No tidal flooding is expected through Monday. However, dangerous rip currents are expected at area beaches starting Monday and lasting through much of the coming week.
  • Marine: Small Craft Advisory conditions will likely be reached for much of the marine area during Monday, with possible gale force wind gusts off Outer Banks Currituck.  
  • A prolonged period of unsettled conditions develops Tuesday and lasts through much of the coming week (not is association with Arthur). Periods of heavy rain and also tidal flooding will be the greatest concerns. More details on what to expect for the remainder of the week will be forthcoming later today.
Please continue to monitor forecasts throughout the weekend using the links below:
The forecast storm track as of early Sunday morning, May 17, is shown here:
Tropical_20200517_0621 (1) Arthur
arthur winds may 17

Grass cutting, week of May 4-8

The Association has a contract with the Thomas Brothers of Heathsville to cut the grass in the roadside ditches, common area/picnic area, entrance and other areas.  Several residents also have contracts with the Thomases to cut grass on their lot.

The Thomases have informed us that they will NOT cut grass the week of May 4-8 because of a death in their family.

PBE POE Board approves work to stabilize bulkhead and other matters

The PBE POA Board of Directors met in special meeting at 1:00 PM, Friday, April 17, 2020, to consider (1) emergency repairs and protection for the bulkhead located in the picnic area common area at the west end of Potomac Drive, between lots 30 and 52; and, (2) other business.

Minutes of the Board meeting and the sketch showing work to be done to stabilize the bulkhead are on the MINUTES page.


The Board approved this motion:  

MOTION: The PBE POA Board of Directors approves an expenditure not to exceed $12,000 to (1) repair common area picnic area bulkhead, and, (2) to install gabion baskets for flow control between the breakwater and the Northeast spur adjacent to the pier. The Board appoints Frank Goyette as project manager. The Project Manager will make, at a minimum, weekly progress reports to the Board. The Board will consider requests from the Project Manager to increase the appropriation if needed.

Motion was seconded.

Vote: AYE – 8; NAY – 0. Motion approved

The Board also dealt with two other matters:

  • Date of annual meeting
  • Election of Board members

Date of Annual meeting

The annual meeting scheduled for April 18 was tentatively moved to May 23.  However, the latest information from State is that COVID-19 not expected to crest until August.

Board decided we will not set a date at this time and will inform all members of this decision. The Board also agreed that because the annual meeting will be delayed for 3 months at best or more; reports and information that would normally be presented at the annual meeting (Treasurer’s report, Water system report and Ongoing projects status) will be provided to the members electronically in May.

Election of Board members

Three Board member terms expire in April 2020: Martha Hulse (Treasurer); Frank Goyette (Director); Joe Schlatter (Secretary). By-Laws require an election at the April 2020 meeting to replace or re-elect Board members whose terms expire.

After discussing alternatives, the Board approved the following motion.

MOTION: Postpone Board member election until annual meeting. If in-person annual meeting is impossible, use electronic or by-mail voting for Board members with expiring term.

Motion was seconded.

Vote: AYE – 8; NAY – 0. Motion approved


ANNOUNCEMENT: Special Board of Directors meeting to address threat to common area bulkhead

The Potomac Bay Estates Property Owners Association Board of Directors will hold a special meeting to deal with a problem that threatens to damage the bulkhead at the picnic/common area at the west end of the neighborhood.

  • Special PBE POA Board meeting:
  • Friday, April 17
  • 1:00 PM
  • If you wish to attend this meeting by Skype, please respond by email to potomacbaypoa@hotmail.com so we can arrange a Skype invite.

The bulkhead is constructed of vertical members driven into the river bottom.  Horizontal members are bolted to the vertical members and vinyl cladding is laid over the exterior.  “Deadman” anchor posts are sunk into the ground, below ground level, about 8-10 feet behind the bulkhead.  Long threaded rods tie the bulkhead to the deadman anchors to prevent or dampen the front-to-back motion of the bulkhead as waves crash into it.

The current problem is this.  As the river flows downstream, wave and current motion scour the river bottom, removing sand and clay from the bottom.  The scouring at the west end of the bulkhead has become so severe that only a few inches of the vertical members at that end are embedded in the river bottom.  This creates a real and present danger that a storm from the NNE-NE-E will drive waves into the bulkhead, causing some portion of the west end to become uprooted from the riverbed and collapsing, likely taking a good portion of the bulkhead with it.

Currently, about ten feet of the bulkhead is sagging toward the river, creating a void behind the bulkhead into which soil is collapsing, increasing pressure on the bulkhead.


This situation needs to be remedied immediately.  We have made initial contact with Andy Cockrell, the contractor who originally installed the bulkhead and who did the work a few years ago to improve the breakwaters and install the deck.  He has provided a verbal estimate of $10,000 to $12,000.  The meeting of the Board this Friday will consider information provided by the design engineer who planned our shoreline stabilization project as well as Andy Cockrell, the installation contractor and determine a course of action.

The permit under which our construction was done two years ago is still valid but needs to be modified to permit the work needed on the bulkhead.   Frank Goyette has submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission a request to modify the permit.  We anticipate that to be approved within a few days.

In 2012, we established two capital reserve accounts, one for water and one for other PBE assets. The capital reserve funds are supported by our dues and water fees.  We set the yearly contribution to that account based on the most likely expenditures we will have going forward as projected by the Treasurer’s Capital Reserve Study.  Then each year the Board votes to fund the reserve accounts.  These accounts were established for just such an eventuality – that is, a major repair to a common asset.  Funds for the immediate bulkhead repair will come from this capital reserve account.    The Board will provide additional information, when available.

We are in discussion with VMRC and VIMS, about a more permanent medium to long term solution, rather than a quick fix.

Board meetings are open to POA members.

If you wish to attend by Skype, reply by email to potomacbaypoa@hotmail.com with your email address so you can be added to the Skype invitation.

If you have comments or questions, please email them, or, telephone:

  • Board President Dave Williams:  804-580-2095, or,
  • Project Manager Frank Goyette:  804-580-9108

These photos were made Saturday, April 11, showing the erosion behind the bulkhead.  This erosion is due to the bottom of the bulkhead bulging out of the river bottom causing the bulkhead to lean forward toward the river.  This creates a void behind the bulkhead that is visible in the photos.  Waves pounding into the bulkhead will loosen the bulkhead footing from the riverbank, eventually resulting in the bulkhead collapsing at this point, possibly taking out a substantial portion of the bulkhead.







April 12, 11:55 PM

The National Weather Service in Wakefield, VA, has issued a high wind warning for our area for Monday, April 13, 4:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  The text of the warning follows.


Wind Advisory

Wind Advisory in effect from Monday, 4:00 AM EDT until Monday, 5:00 PM EDT. Source: U.S. National Weather Service


WHAT…South winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph expected. * WHERE…Portions of eastern and southeast Virginia in addition to northeast North Carolina. * WHEN…From 4 AM to 5 PM EDT Monday.

* IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and scattered power outages may result.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

Report on our community water system and COVID-19 virus

As you know, our community has our own water system.  The system was put in place in 1989-90 when our neighborhood was opened.  In 2012 we substantially upgraded the system with a second well; new control system house; 1,000-gallon reserve pressure tank; chlorinator; air pressure pressurization; and additional metering and testing taps.

The Virginia Dept of Health, Office of Drinking Water (ODW) has required all water systems, regardless of size, to report their exposure to COVID-19 virus contamination.  Here is our report to ODW; this report has been accepted and our system is clean.   PBE water COVID-19 assesment

We manage the water system ourselves.  Frank Goyette is a State Licensed Water System Operator as well as being a member of our Board of Directors.  Frank takes direction from the Board and maintains contact with ODW to ensure our water system operation is up-to-date with laws and regulations.  Two other people in the community — Joe McShea and Joe Schlatter — assist Frank with maintenance and testing.  Our water is tested regularly for a variety of possible contaminants and a report of test results is provided to all property owners.  The operator of record of our system is Sydnor Hydro, a professional water system management company; they visit our site quarterly for inspection, and, they are available for emergency repairs that are beyond our repair capability.


Northumberland County announces two confirmed COVID-19 cases

The Northumberland County Administrator has issued a press release confirming two cases of COVID-19 virus in the county.  Both are travel related; both are under quarantine and in isolation.

Here is a copy of the County press release:   NoCo Covid first case March 26 (1)

Here is a link to theVirginia Dept of Health COVID-19 information page.  This page has a lot of information for individuals, families and businesses.  The two cases in Northumberland County are not on this map; the map will be updated late tonight.