Barney Watson

Barney Watson Lake Gaston Real Estate LLC real estate agent
Lake Gaston Real Estate LLC
1945 NC Hwy 4 Littleton NC 27850

Owning Waterfront Property on Lake Gaston

Barney Watson  -  Lake Gaston Real Estate LLC – Owner / Broker / REALTOR®

Dominion Energy (VEPCO) owns Lake Gaston. They built the man-made impoundment in 1963.  From the Lake Gaston Dam and Kerr Dam there is 35 miles of water and around 400 miles of shoreline.  The lake has roughly 20,300 surface acres of water.

Dominion runs the hydroelectric project under a license agreement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Dominion developed a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). They use SMP to uphold the project, for public access and enjoyment of the Lake, and to protect the Lake’s environmental integrity. The following Construction and Use Procedures, developed and approved by the FERC, went into effect May 2022 with few changes, most existed since 1998. These same rules apply to the Roanoke Rapids Lake as well.

Dominion started buying land for the lake in the 1960’s. They bought acres and acres of farmland along the Roanoke River. The impoundment known as Lake Gaston has a project boundary, often referred to as “the high-water mark”, but Dominion recognizes it as the project boundary. At the Lake Gaston Dam the project boundary is 204 feet above mean sea level and graduates to 217 feet at Kerr Dam. Dominion owns all the land within the project boundary with few exceptions.  I tell my clients, no one owns waterfront property on Lake Gaston except Dominion.  The only way to tell where your property ends, and Dominion’s property starts is to get a survey.

The two classifications of Lake Gaston shoreline are: 1.) The General Development Areas. Those portions of the shoreline subdivided and platted before May 31, 1998. Or which certain development will have little or no negative impact on the environment. 2.) Special Management Areas. Those portions of the shoreline with importance which warrants special protection. Their subdivided categories are: Limited Use, Sensitive and Undevelopable. View the areas at The maps, listed by county, found at the bottom of this article.

Dominion needs a permit and approval for all activity on their property. Structures over the extension line are not allowed. Also not allowed; structures closer than15 feet from another structure. The property extension lines may be adjusted by Dominion, these lines are imaginary lines on Dominion’s property. The best way to apply for a boathouse permit is to first, get a survey, then have a boathouse builder visit the property and complete drawings. Then the permit application, with drawings and a check for $600, goes to Dominion Power. Boathouse companies can advise you on what type and size structure Dominion will approve. When it comes to placement of a structure; Dominion Energy, in its sole discretion, holds authority and their decision is final.

Allowable in the General Development Area: one structure per lot, limited in size to the footprint of 1,250 square feet. An A-Roof or Sundeck, limited to no more than 16 feet above the water surface (200 feet MSL). You may clear a 12-foot path to the boathouse for use during construction. You must replant 6 feet of that pathway. Boathouses should be 15 feet inside both extension lines unless approved by Dominion. Trimming trees and bushes from 2 ½ feet high up to 20 feet to improve your view, with an approved permit.

Allowable In the Limited Use Area: one structure per lot, limited in size to the footprint of 1,250 sq ft. An A-Roof or Sundeck, limited to no more than16 feet above the water surface (200 feet MSL). You may clear a 6 ft path to the boathouse. Boathouses should be 15 feet inside both extension lines unless approved by Dominion.

Not allowed in the Limited Use Area: removal of trees and bushes.

Not allowed In the Sensitive and Undevelopable Area: no structures or removal of trees or vegetation.

Without a permit from Dominion: a property owner may maintain their structures, boathouses, piers, bulkheads, riprap, etc. When 50% or less of the structure needs repair / maintenance. More than 50% destroyed it needs removal. Rebuilding is allowed if within current regulations and a new permit obtained. Dominion does not allow a new bulkhead but does allow maintenance of the existing one. Rip-rap stone is required to protect the shoreline, a permit is needed for that.

Vegetation is not only trees and shrubs on Dominion land, but it also includes aquatic plants like; willow weed, cat tails, arrowhead, and such. I get many questions about willow weed. The Dominion’s license agreement with FERC, says willow weed is a protected species, you cannot remove willow weed from the shoreline around the lake. Nor can you spray chemicals into the lake to kill aquatic weeds. The environment and wildlife in and around Lake Gaston benefit from the aquatic weeds. Remember, Dominion owns the lake and allows us to use it.

Dominion allows dredging and stump removal during certain months only, for ingress and egress of boat traffic. Dredging is not allowed to make the water deeper at your boathouse.

Prohibited structures and activities on Dominion Energy property are (but not limited to) the following: fences, walls, utility sheds, swimming pools, sand beaches (no sand can be brought in from an outside source), individual boat ramps, animal shelters, satellite dishes, septic tanks or drain fields, structures for human habitation shall not be on Dominion property. No discharges from any sources are allowed into the lake waters. Irrigation pumps on the boathouse are allowed if permitted, submersible pumps my not be used in Lake Gaston.

Grandfather structures are a pier, boat slip, dock, boathouse, bulkhead or riprap that was built according to the terms of a license agreement issued by Dominion.  Subject to the license agreement, the Grandfather Structure may remain upon Dominion’s property for its useful life so long as the structure remains in compliance with the size requirements and other building specifications set forth in the construction procedures in effect at the time it was built.

A permit to build a structure is valid for 12 months and construction must be completed within that period. A previously approved permit where a structure has not been built, completed and inspected is not Grandfathered.

Boathouses may have an enclosed storage area not to exceed 100 sq ft and shall be located no further than 10 feet from the back of the structure (landside).  However, structures either located on Dominion property or over the lake water, shall not be used for human habitation nor shall be equipped with household fixtures such as sinks, showers, flush toilets, etc.

In summary, Dominion Energy owns Lake Gaston and anything we do on their land we must get their permission. The Dominion office is located at 100 Oakwood Ave in Roanoke Rapids, NC at the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam. Their phone number is 252-535-6161. I wrote this article based on my understanding of the information contained on the Dominion Energy website. Always refer to the website for complete and up to date information.

Barney Watson is Owner / REALTOR of Lake Gaston Real Estate LLC and a Director for the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS®. His cell is 252-532-3274, email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and website is




Location - Mileage

Located between the NC and VA border between I-85 and I-95. It is bounded by the Kerr Dam and Gaston Dam and borders the counties of Warren, Halifax and Northampton in North Carolina as well as Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties in VA.

As determined by a N.C. Department of Transportation study, mileage to the Lake Gaston area from specific points has been established as follows:

  •  Interstate 85 to Interstate 95 crossing EFB (Eaton Ferry Bridge), 44.3 miles 
  •  Intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 903 to the Virginia-North Carolina state boundary line, 20.65 miles 
  •  I-95 to Lake Gaston (EFB by way of U.S. 158, N.C. 903, etc.) 25.2 miles Interstate 95 to Lake Gaston (EFB by way  of N.C. 46,   N.C. 48, etc.)   29.2  miles 
  •  I-85 to Lake Gaston (EFB by way of U.S. 158, etc.) 27.4 miles

Size and Water Depth

  • This beautiful lake covers approximately 20,000 acres and has 350 miles of shoreline.  It is about 35 miles long.
  • Water levels are strictly regulated through a license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The license also requires cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manage the upstream feeder lake, Lake Kerr.
  • Normal: 199–200 feet (60.7–61.0 m) of elevation
  • Fish Spawning: 199–201 feet (60.7–61.3 m) of elevation
  • Flood Control: up to 203 feet (61.9 m) of elevation (204 feet [62.2 m] possible in a 100-year flood event)
  • Drought: No lower than 197 feet (60.0 m) feet of elevation
  • Lake Gaston has a constant water level, which fluctuates only a foot or so on average! 

Helpful Contact Information

  1. For questions related to Shoreline Management such as docks, riprap or the mileage buoys, please continue to call Will Miller, the Reservoir Program Manager, at 252-535-6894
  2. For issues related to boating safety and regulations: In North Carolina, WRC enforcement officers are the point of contact. If there is an urgent concern about safety or violations, please call the enforcement hotline at 800-662-7137 and the dispatch center will contact the nearest officer on duty. General complaints should probably be directed to Col. Jon Evans at 919-707-0036.
  3. In Virginia, VA Conservation Police Officers (CPO's) enforce boating safety laws. Violations in progress should be reported to the Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  4. General complaints can be directed to the main line at 804-367-1000 or .
  5. For questions related to Lake Gaston water levels go to Water Level Questions

 Perfect for Boating!  Boating Rules & Regulations Are A Must For Safety


  • Largemouth bass, striped bass, stripers, walleyes, catfish, blue catfish, chain pickerel and bluegill.


  • Lake Gaston is a hydroelectric reservoir.  The lake is not federally owned. It was formed when the Virginia Electric Power Company built Gaston Dam on the Roanoke River to generate electricity for Dominion Resources, they own the lake. The dam is located on the North Carolina side. It generates electricity for Dominion North Carolina Power, which is the North Carolina operating company of Dominion Resources. The dam includes four hydroelectric generators.

 Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake - Differences Between the Two Lakes?

 Lake Gaston Real Estate

  • Thinking of Buying a Lake Gaston property? Barney's website will give you all of the information you need.  Great video on the home page about Lake Gaston and also a video about the Lake Gaston real estate market.



Littleton NC

Littleton NC real estate provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy all that North Carolina has to offer without sacrificing a low-key approach to life. As one of the cities in the popular Halifax County, Littleton has much of the same great personality that the rest of North Carolina enjoys, including a focus on the great outdoors and an active lifestyle that takes advantage of the nearby lakes and lush greenery. However, because Littleton is smaller in size and somewhat removed from the neighboring city centers, it provides a more family-oriented and community feel.

Lake Gaston vs Kerr Lake

Both lakes are part of the Roanoke River chain of lake flooded to generate electricity and control flooding downstream. Kerr Reservoir or Buggs Island Lake as the local refer to it was flooded in 1951 and is 50,000 surface acres of water. Lake Gaston was flooded in 1963 and consists of 20,300 surface acres. Buggs Island Lake is owned by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers while Lake Gaston is owned by Dominion Resources (VEPCO/NC Power).

Lake Gaston - Bracey VA

Located in southern Mecklenburg County in Virginia, Bracey is one of the favored spots for vacationers and residents seeking a home away from the bustle of city life. It is conveniently situated in the heart of Virginia's rolling countryside and lake region, which makes Bracey VA homes popular with families, retirees, and professionals who want to get the most out of their place of residence or vacation home.