Category Archives: Floodplains

Public Hearing on ACP Request to Cross Floodplains

A Public Hearing will be held at 7 pm Monday December 3, 2018, in the auditorium at Nelson County High/Middle School (6919 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston) to review four of the deferred floodplain variance applications submitted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in early 2018.  On January 31, 2018, ACP requested the deferrals until such time as they could provide the additional information requested by Nelson County on behalf of the BZA for these four applications to cross designated floodplains.

The Board of Zoning Appeals Web page has details about the ACP application as well as links to written comments on the requests submitted to the BZA. (Scroll down past the comments section to get to the links for the ACP application.)

Those wishing to speak at the hearing will be required to sign in before the meeting. Nelson County has guidelines for speakers at hearings; note that speakers representing a group will have 5 minutes, individual speakers will have 3 minutes (and may not allocate their time to another individual).

The hearing will address these four variance requests:

Variance # 2018-007

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across property owned by Ronald Slaughter Jr. & Others, 14815 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston, Virginia and further identified as Tax Map #45-A-25.

Variance # 2018-008

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across the following properties:

  • 1434 Starvale Ln, Shipman, VA – owned by Gillis Rodgers, and further identified as Tax Map #46-A-34.

  • Tax Map #46-A-12 – owned by Equity Trust Company

Variance # 2018-009

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across property owned by James & Virginia Powell, 884 Wheelers Cove Rd, Shipman, Virginia and further identified as Tax Map #59-A-23.

Variance # 2018-010

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across properties owned by Greenway S Corporation, Tax Maps #60-3-15, 60-3-16, and 60-A-28.

See a map of the FEMA floodplains on the ACP route. The blue dots on the map (look for them along the orange line that is the pipeline route) are the water crossings. The A (red), AE (yellow), and X (green) areas on the map are FEMA designated Floodplain Areas. A & AE are the most dangerous part of Floodplains, called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), and any permanent structures are prohibited there, with or without Higher Standards.

Flood Carries MVP Pipe Section Off Site

The Roanoke Times reported on October 12, 2018, that flooding from rains the day before carried two 80-foot sections of pipe off the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s right of way onto Dale Angle’s land.   The sections had been left in the right of way before being set in the nearby trench.  “Both had clearly crossed a boundary line drawn earlier this year when Mountain Valley used its legal power of eminent domain to obtain an easement through Angle’s land, despite his fervent opposition.”

Although construction crews can do what then want on the easement, they must have permission to enter a landowner’s adjoining property.

“‘They called this morning wanting me to sign a permission slip’ that would allow company workers onto his property to retrieve two 80-foot sections of steel pipe that floated away, Angle said Friday. ‘I said I couldn’t do it right now. They’ve done destroyed enough of my property. I’m not going to let them do it again.'”

An MVP Spokesperson had few details about how the company might reclaim the lost pipe.

Read the full article here.

Missing, Inaccurate, Incomplete

Photo by Dima Holmes

Those commenting to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in response to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) request for technical information on specific wetland and/or stream crossings are documenting missing, inaccurate and incomplete wetland and stream information in Table B-1 Revised November 30, 2017, “Impact Table of Waters of the U.S. for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Norfolk District.” DEQ requires that all comments to the SWCB refer to specific wetland/stream crossing in the Table, a difficult thing to do if the table is inaccurate or incomplete.

The Executive Summary of the comment submitted by the Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) states the problem clearly:

We compared the Project Locations on Table B-1 with current ACP Construction Constraint Maps, Rev. 1, dated 3/16/18, pages 62 – 75. The ACP construction plan maps show the ACP pipeline, centerline, work areas, access roads, waterbody, wetland and wetland/waterbody SPCC Plan Restrictions and other information including site identification reference numbers for of each feature. Additionally RVF used its local knowledge of streams and wetlands, flood plain maps, roadways and related historic information. RVF reviewed fourteen Project Locations shown on Table B-1 and added comments on nine additional waterbody/wetland locations missing and omitted from Table B-1. In all RVF reviewed twenty-three waterbody/wetland locations in this 5.4 mile stretch of the ACP. It is likely that the missing locations have not been considered by DEQ or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, the ACP construction maps show no consideration or planning for the roadway improvement necessary for heavy construction traffic on highways, bridges and side roads in the South Rockfish Valley. Such roadway improvement work will further significantly impact streams and wetlands and degrade water quality. On the basis of missing locations alone, the significant number of waterbody/wetland site omissions indicates that Table B-1 is seriously flawed, incomplete and unreliable as a basis for protecting the rivers, streams, wetlands and water quality standards in Nelson County and the Commonwealth.

Additionally, RVF’s review found thirteen Project Locations in which over one-half acre of wetland/waterbody area per location to be adversely impacted and likely destroyed by the ACP. These thirteen locations exceed the NMP (12) limitations. The cumulative effect of so many waterbody/wetland locations exceeding NMP (12) limits within the limited confines of the South Rockfish Valley present an excessive and unacceptable risk to the rivers, streams, wetlands, flood plains and ground waters of exposure to pollution, sedimentation, alteration of ground water flows, loss of trout streams, aquatic life, bird life, wild life, agricultural, brewery, cidery support, resort and recreational use. Additionally, RVF found numerous errors, omissions and mis-characterizations in Table B-1 which are described in the following paragraphs. Nelson County is dependent upon agri-tourism for it’s livelihood and support of related winery, brewery, cidery industries. Tourist come from all over the world to enjoy recreational and environmental features offered, The South Rockfish River is one source and watershed for the Rockfish River, a designated Virginia Scenic River.

RVF found so many errors, omissions and mischaracterizations in the 5.4 mile stretch of pipeline that RVF concludes the Corps NMP 12 Permit is insufficient to protect wetland and/or stream crossings and preserve the water quality for Nelson County, the general and regional conditions and does not satisfy the Section 401 permit authorizations. In conclusion, RVF recommends that the Water Board require a separate analysis of, and certification for each crossing of a waterbody/wetland on a stream-by-stream basis. Such certification process to include Public Hearings and the provision for, and consideration of, public comments. Such action is essential to protect the waters of the Commonwealth.

To view the full document for RVF Filing, click here.

Horizons Village has just submitted comments pertaining to an additional “missing” crossing in the South Rockfish Valley: a high-consequence wetland which the VA Dept of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) had officially designated as a Conservation Site and requested that ACP route around. Although the ACP route was altered slightly, the pipe itself is still slated to cross the Conservation Site and part of the wetland still lies within the proposed limits of disturbance.

And this wetland is also missing from the DEQ chart.

You can read the comments from Horizon Village here, including pictures and maps. If you want to delve deeper, Horizons Village has also included 18 attachments (221 pages) of substantiating information including copies of their prior contacts with FERC and DEQ, documentation from DCR and the Army Corps re the boundaries of this wetland, and the ACP-prepared easement map which confirms the location of their planned disturbance. Read the attachments (includes an index) here.

An important point raised about the missing and incomplete information in both the Rockfish Valley Foundation and the Horizons Village filings is:  If DEQ/Army Corps of Engineers/ACP’s list of “impacted” waterbodies is incomplete or inaccurate for those within just 5-6 miles in the South Rockfish Valley, waterbodies they have been told about in previous comments, HOW MANY OTHERS IN THE ACP PATH ARE ALSO MISSING?

NRDC Issues Report on ACP/MVP Threats to Waterbodies in VA

On February 26, 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a 30 page report, produced for NRDC by Downstream Strategies, which assesses threats and likely impacts to waterbodies in Virginia during the construction and operation of the ACP and MVP. Threats to Water Quality from Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Water Crossings in Virginia focuses on erosion and sedimentation threats, as well as threats to drinking water supplies for cities like Norfolk and Roanoke, trout streams, minority communities like Emporia and Franklin, the Chesapeake Bay, and wetlands like the Great Dismal Swamp.

Dominion Didn’t Do Homework

In a Letter to the Editor of the Nelson County Times, published February 14, 2018, Marilyn Shifflett points out the many ways in which Dominion had failed to do their homework when they came to the Board of Zoning appeals on February 5 with applications for variances to cross more than four miles of Nelson floodplains. She says, “I commend the diligence of the BZA and the Department Planning & Zoning staff. I am most grateful for their attention to detail. However, I find myself left with more questions than answers regarding the ACP’s quoted responses” in the press coverage of the hearing.

  • “The pipeline route through Nelson is roughly 90 percent sloped terrain, which means the bulk of the remainder is through these sites. Nelson’s route has more floodplains than any community on the entire 600-mile route. After nearly four years, this was their “preferred route” in a community with a long history of frequent flooding?”
  • Variance requests were submitted after the Nelson County Board of Supervisors passed a new floodplain ordinance. Apparently the ACP didn’t realize their requests would be considered under that ordinance.
  • Variance requests on seven properties were dismissed because the ACP had not obtained easement agreements for those properties and, under Virginia law, the lack of easement agreements constitutes the “lack of standing” required for variance applications. Dominion surveyed the properties (uner court order in February 2017 and floodplains were clearly delineated in the sruveys. Yet Dominion apparently didn’t know they needed an “interest” in the properties to apply for variances.
  • “The ACP’s request for deferral on all 11 sites expresses an interest in further hydrologic and hydraulic analyses indicating that they now suddenly view these areas as “high consequence.” One of the most frequent causes of pipeline ruptures is earth movement on slopes and along stream crossings, particularly during periods of heavy rains. Given Dominion’s public statements regarding thorough environmental reviews and their commitment to the safety of impacted communities, I am left wondering why these sites were not given attention a year ago during survey, and why did the ACP’s October request for variances not include such analyses and engineering plans specific to these sites?”

Did Dominion think they could just walk in and get the variances, regardless of what the ordinance says, regardless of their standing on the properties, regardless of their lack of analysis and plans for the properties? Probably they did. Leaves us to wonder about the extent of other homework undone. Think about all those applications – to FERC, to DEQ, to the Forest Service – where Dominion has said, “Information on this will be provided later. But we want you to approve this now.”