On a frigid winter morning in 2014, members of the Stafford Board of Supervisors and special guests huddled in spitting snow and frigid temperatures in a valley upstream from the mouth of Rocky Pen Run. A cheer went up when former Stafford Board of Supervisors member Linda Musselman, who was a short distance away in a pump house by the Rappahannock River, flipped a switch and water began surging into the most extensive public works project in Stafford’s history – the Rocky Pen Run Reservoir, now known as Lake Mooney.
Five years later, Lake Mooney has become both a vital link in Stafford’s mission to provide high-quality clean water to the County and a center for recreation for the neighboring communities. The Lake Mooney Water Treatment Facility currently pumps about 1.8 billion gallons of water to the county. The reservoir holds 5.5 billion gallons of water and sits behind a 118 feet tall dam that is more than 1,200 feet in length. The capacity of the reservoir is designed to meet the needs of Stafford’s growing citizen and business population for many years to come.
“The availability of abundant clean water is something we take for granted, but it is critically important when planning the future of a community,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gary Snellings. “Stafford County has a successful track record in undertaking and successfully bringing to fruition large projects and Lake Mooney has proven to be a source of pride for us.”
Stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish and sunfish, black crappie and other species naturally colonized the lake during filling. The lake opened for fishing in July 2017, after the fish were mature enough to harvest. There is a park at Lake Mooney with restroom facilities and a boat launch, no gas-powered engines are allowed. Admission is free to the park, but a fishing license is required.
As well, the park is the site of a cabin belonging to enslaved people. Stafford County is working to preserve the cabin, one of the few examples of buildings belonging to enslaved people left in Virginia.
The funding and planning for the reservoir took more than 20 years and was funded through user fees. Over the years, in anticipation of the Rocky Pen Run Dam, Reservoir and Water Treatment Facility, the County built up reserves from expansion fees. Expansion fees are one-time revenues paid by new users as they join the Utilities system. The project was funded through those expansion fees as well as $61 million in bonds issued in 2012. No tax dollars were used.
Lake Mooney is named after Jason Mooney, a Stafford deputy who worked for the Sheriff’s Office before tragically dying in an accident on I-95 after responding to an emergency call on October 19, 2007. He was a graduate of Colonial Forge High School and a veteran of the Marine Corps. Mooney also served as a firefighter with Company 2 in Stafford.