Category Archives: Water Quality

Augusta Supervisors Comment to DEQ

Nice work Augusta County! The Augusta County Board of Supervisors wrote a letter on May 24, 2018, to Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and to the State Water Control Board (and also submitted their letter to the FERC Docket for the ACP). While showing extreme concern for the crossing of the Calfpasture River, they take issue with the use of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 for a project of this magnitude. Nelson County Board of Supervisors, will you step up to protect Nelson waterways?

DEQ Extends ACP and MVP Comment Period, MVP Suspended in WV

The Richmond Times Dispatch for May 31, 2018, reported that the deadline for comments on the adequacy of water crossing permits for both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline to the Virginia State Water Control Board will be extended. The Department of Environmental Quality Web site went down over a week before the May 30 comment deadline and (as of early Friday morning June 1) is still down. DEQ spokesperson Ann Regn said they hope to have the site up and running later on June 1, and that the comment deadline will be extended by however many days the Web site was down.

This means you can continue to send your comments to DEQ! The email addresses for comments are:

For additional instructions (you must reference specific water bodies in your comments) and suggestions on what to say, see our earlier posts on:

In the same article, the Times-Dispatch reported that in West Virginia the Army Corps of Engineers halted “any work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline near four river crossings until it can determine whether its permit allowing work there is in compliance with West Virginia environmental rules. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups asked this month for the permit suspension until a federal judge rules on their lawsuit claiming the permit is too broad in scope.”

Threats to Ground and Drinking Water from ACP and MVP


Downstream Strategies prepared a report for the Natural Resources Defense Council on the threats to Virginia’s groundwater from construction and operation of two proposed major gas pipelines, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. They would cross 18 counties and two cities in Virginia as they travel from West Virginia through Virginia and on into North Carolina.

Dated May 23, 2018, the report, Threats to Groundwater from the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia, assesses threats and likely impacts to underground sources of drinking water in Virginia during the construction and operation of the pipelines, specifically focusing on threats to private drinking water wells and springs. The report finds substantial threats to 100 miles of land, water wells and an aquifer relied on for drinking water.

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?

Online Resources from the Pipeline CSI

The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), has made the following online resources available to citizens who are contending with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other major pipelines in the central Appalachian region:

 
An online submission form is available for citizen reports concerning stream impacts and noncompliance with environmental requirements for pipeline construction. The reporting form has been developed as a collaborative effort involving multiple organizations, and it can be used for submission of reports for different pipeline projects. Form submissions will be monitored by the Pipeline CSI, Mountain Valley Watch, Trout Unlimited, and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. Each organization will address specific pipelines and will follow its own protocol for responding to incident reports, including follow-up investigation and submission of complaints to the regulatory agencies.
 
Access to the Pipeline Incident Report form is available at pipelineupdate.org/csi-reporting/. Other reporting methods provided by ABRA, including a hotline and a dedicated email address, as well as guidance for citizen observers, are also provided. Additional information and methods for reporting are provided by the other collaborating organizations.
 
 
Multiple agencies have been involved in the review and issuance of permits and approvals for the ACP.  See pipelineupdate.org/environmental-review for access to regulatory agency websites and to environmental regulations and guidelines that apply to pipeline construction in general.  Access is also provided to ACP-specific project plans and to environmental-review and approval documents. In addition, project-specific requests for variances and exemptions, as well as inspection and enforcement documents, will be provided. 
 
 
The CSI Mapping System is an online interactive map developed to support citizen oversight of the construction phase of the ACP. The geographic extent of the mapping system includes 200 miles of the western mountainous section of the ACP. The mapping system provides the location of the ACP construction corridor and access roads, information concerning environmental risks and sensitivities, construction plans (“alignment sheets”), and water monitoring stations. The mapping system includes a layer that indicates the extent of tree felling, and thus, the extent of potential construction in the summer of 2018. The mapping system will also provide information related to CSI Incident Reports.
 
Mapping system users can can select from different base maps, determine the layers that are displayed, access information about map features, and save PDF versions of their maps. 
 
The CSI Mapping System is currently set to display locations of stream and wetlands crossing considered by the US Army Corps of Engineers prior to its issuance of the general Nationwide Permit 12. As indicated in the attached screen shot, information concerning the individual crossings, including identifiers (FeatID), can be accessed via popup windows. Although the Virginia DEQ is accepting comments on the adequacy of the NWP12 for protecting state waters in lieu of individual state review, the DEQ website that provides water body crossing information is not working. The CSI Mapping System provides access to the missing information. For more on this issue, see Calendar / Events at pipelineupdate.org/csi.
 
 
CSI Mapping System showing native brook trout streams in the Townsend Draft area of the George Washington National Forest in western Virginia. Stream crossings included in the Water Body Impact Table prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers in its review for the Nationwide Permit 12 are indicated. The popup window includes the crossing information provided in the table. The Virginia DEQ is presently accepting comments on the adequacy of the NWP12 for protecting state water resources. An initial review indicates that the Army Corps failed to evaluate at least 81 stream crossings in the westernmost 100 miles of the ACP in Virginia.