Water Workshop: Great Place to Ask Questions!

VA-water-resources-28oct2015“The State of Virginia’s Water Resources: Sharing a Finite Supply” is the theme of the 2015 annual meeting of the Virginia Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. The meeting will be held October 28, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. Topics covered will include extreme weather events, increasing variation in annual precipitation, predicted water-demand increases, and gaps in data for surface water and groundwater.

Can you go? For more information, visit http://ww2.bse.vt.edu/swcs/; or contact Erin Ling at ejling@vt.edu, or Karen Kline at kline@vt.edu.

What a great chance to ask some GOOD questions to presenters like Scott Kudlas, Director, Office of Water Supply, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality! Questions like:

  • Given our finite supply and projected increasing demand, why does VA’s DEQ intend to give a free pass to the ACP to pollute so much water through erosion and sedimentation? No free pass? Oh, great, so you WILL ASK FOR AND MAKE PUBLIC site specific erosion and storm water control plans well in advance of project approval?
  • In light of our finite supply and projected increasing demand, can you speak to the effect of the ACP using over 38 million gallons for DUST CONTROL?
  • Extreme weather events? How does the VA DEQ intend to take into account the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in their granting of open trench waivers (15 miles long anyone?) and handling of other erosion and sedimentation concerns (landslides?) regarding the ACPs construction on VAs steep slopes?
  • What evidence can you provide to reassure people in Nelson County that removing over 3 million gallons of water from local rivers for hydrostatic testing won’t negatively impact aquatic life or drinking water?

Solar: Think Local

In the last few days, many of us in Nelson County have received in the mail the Central Virginia Electric Coop (CVEC) September 2015 newsletter. On page 5 there is a graphic and note about a CVEC Solar Survey. CVEC is exploring interest in a “community solar garden” where members purchase a photovoltaic panel or two and receive credit on their monthly bill for the output. The newsletter says, “If there is sufficient interest, your Cooperative may put together a community solar garden…” CVEC members/customers who are interested in fostering a community solar garden are advised to fill out a short survey on the website. Supporting a “community solar garden” is one way to help make fossil fuels – like fracked natural gas – unnecessary.

Virginia’s Failing Grade in Solar Power

Solar Power Rocks is committed to giving homeowners a clear picture of the policy, incentives, and investment returns on local solar panel installations. They also recognize the best states for solar and clearly illustrate how all state legislatures can encourage residential solar energy growth based on the best practices in the most successful states. In their Solar Power Rankings for 2015, Virginia has a failing grade and ranks 41st of the 50 states – down 8 from last year. If Dominion focused seriously on solar instead of giving it a mere token nod, and invested in solar for the future instead of fossil fuels from the past, Virginia would most certainly soar in the rankings!

The commentary accompanying Virginia’s 2015 score card below states, “Virginia is languishing near the bottom of our list, dropping 8 spots from last year, into failing territory. With a shoddy RPS [Renewable Portfolio Standard, set by the state], it’s no surprise that there are no statewide incentives for solar in the Old Dominion. But with decent net metering and interconnection policy, a strong RPS could jump-start Virginia’s languishing solar industry by causing the utility companies to wake up and offer incentives.”


Judge Rules in Constitutionality Case

On September 30, 2015, Judge Dillon ruled to dismiss the case Nelson and Augusta landowners brought against Dominion in Federal Court, challenging the constitutionality of the “Survey Without Permission” statute, 56-49.01. It is essential to note that Judge Dillon’s ruling only means that the statute (56-49.01) may be valid in some cases, not in every case, as she declined to give a ruling on the “as applied” challenge because Dominion no longer wanted to survey the specific plaintiffs’ properties. Each and every landowner can still challenge the statute in court as it applies to them.

Friends of Nelson continues to urge landowners to refuse survey until forced by a court order.  It is the only tool we as property owners have prior to pipeline approval to demonstrate unequivocally that we are opposed to the construction of the ACP on our property and that the state is forcing us to comply. Dominion continues to use the survey numbers in the media as direct evidence of landowner support for the ACP.

Flooding Along the Proposed ACP Route

There has been heavy flooding today, September 29, 2015, in Nelson and Augusta counties along the proposed ACP route, including in the flood-prone Rockfish Valley corridor that Dominion thinks is an ideal place for the pipeline. Streams rose, roads flooded, residents (and school buses) were unable to access homes. Take photos! Use those photos when you send your comments to FERC. See our post below on sending new comments to FERC.

Become an Intervenor

Friends of Nelson strongly encourages landowners on the route to register as “intervenors.” It is really important. We also encourage anyone who may be “materially” affected to register – this includes neighbors who could find themselves on the route due to adjustments or who are in the blast zone, community members who fear their well or spring may be impacted by nearby blasting or far away sediment pollution, business owners who may face reduced revenues due to construction traffic, or permanent losses for any reason.

Intervening carries with it certain rights and responsibilities. You can learn more here.

WIld Virginia has produced an excellent document on why and how to file with FERC as an intervenor, complete with step-by-step instructions.  Click here to read, download, or print this useful document.

There will be a workshop for potential intervenors on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2-6 p.m., at Nelson Memorial Library in Lovingston. You can drop in anytime. Ernie Reed, who has intervened several times on other projects, will be there to answer questions and to help you register right then and there.

Now Available: Resource Report 2 (Water Use and Quality)

Resource Report 2, an additional part of Dominion’s 30,000 page filing, is still not available via the Dominion page on their filing, but we have downloaded it from the FERC page. It is a 404 page pdf file on Water Use and Quality, click here to view or download.

Lots of interesting information is included – for example, table 2.27-1 tells us that Dominion plans to take 3.6 million gallons of water from the South Fork of the Rockfish to hydrostatically test the ACP … and more from undisclosed locations for dust control (38 million gallons from various local sources throughout the project).