Category Archives: Water Quality

Tell Northam: Keep Virginia’s Water Clean


Pipelines are a threat to the clean water Virginians depend on. A recent study,  Threats to Water Quality from Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Water Crossings in Virginia, confirms that the proposed pipelines will cause massive disruption to streams and wetlands, pollute the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and threaten crucial drinking water supplies. Why should Virginians pay billions of dollars for pipelines that could pollute our water? Virginia governor Ralph Northam has promised to hold these projects to the “highest environmental standards” and that individual reviews of their pollution impacts are needed. Call the Governor at 804-786-2211 and tell him to stay true to his word and keep Virginia’s water clean.

Northam Announces Additional Powers to Protect Virginia Waters

In a press release from his office on March 16, 2018, Governor Northam announced emergency clauses added to SB698 and SB699 allowing DEQ to issue stop work orders on all or part of land-disturbing activities associated with natural gas pipeline construction that may have adverse effects on water quality.

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Announces Additional Powers To Protect Virginia’s Clean Water

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced additional powers to expand the Commonwealth’s ability to protect clean water. SB698 and SB699 establish processes in state law to allow the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue a stop work order on all or part of land-disturbing activities associated with natural gas pipeline construction if DEQ determines those activities have caused, or will imminently cause, a substantial adverse impact to water quality. On Saturday, the General Assembly accepted Governor Northam’s amendment adding an emergency clause to each bill and the measures are currently in effect.

“I want to thank Senator Creigh Deeds and the Department of Environmental Quality for working together to empower the Commonwealth to halt construction on the pipelines if there is a serious threat to water quality,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, and all the rivers and streams in between, our water quality is of paramount importance to our health and our economy and I will protect it as long as I am Governor.”

“If the pipelines go forward, it’s imperative that DEQ have the tools it needs to assure the people of the Commonwealth that water quality will not be compromised,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. “Thanks to DEQ staff for their tireless work to help get these bills through the legislative process, to Governor Northam for his timely amendments and for signing the bills, and to the conservation groups who added their voices to this important conversation.”

“We are pleased the General Assembly agreed to give DEQ the additional authority to protect water quality, and we will use these tools to exercise rigorous enforcement to ensure our water is protected and our natural areas are preserved,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. 

VMRC Approves ACP

In its meeting on March 16, 2018, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved with 12 special conditions the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, voting 7 yes, 0 no, 1 abstention.

See the VMRC Commission Summary Web page for the details of the meeting, the vote, and the imposed conditions. The conditions are general and benign, like ACP agreeing to adhere to plans in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, revegetating, complying with erosion and sedimentation measures, notifying the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 48 hours before blasting, etc.

Detecting Water Quality Impacts: Public Showing of Webinar

Many of your neighbors in Nelson recently tuned in to a webinar (web-based seminar) about how citizens can help monitor pipeline construction. If we can identify and report construction problems quickly we can take action to protect our lands and waters.

Volunteers watching streams they know and care about is an important component of the Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) coordinated by the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. It’s not a major volunteer commitment, but it is an important one. No one knows our streams and land like we do!

If you’d like to learn how to detect and report water quality impacts from natural gas pipelines, we’ll be screening the webinar again at the Nelson County Public Library on Thursday, March 22, 7-8:30 PM.

VMRC Hearing – Further Info


We have posted recently about the Virginia Marine Resources Commission hearing on Friday March 16, 2018, in Norfolk.  If you wish to attend the hearing, contact info@augustacountyalliance.org about car pooling.

Here is additional information from the Augusta County Alliance:

During the American Revolution, even as it appeared the fledgling U.S. Navy was going to be destroyed by the superior British Navy, American Commander John Paul Jones answered the request for surrender with these immortal words: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

That is our stance on this unnecessary and destructive pipeline. We must continue to push back at every opportunity and Never Give Up. Next Friday, March 16, at 9:30 a.m. in Newport News will be one more opportunity to speak up—at the hearing by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to consider the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s permit application to run its 42-inch high pressure pipeline under state regulated waters, i.e. beneath streams and wetlands with drainage areas of 5 square miles or more. 

On the list [click here for the entire application] are 26 streams in Augusta County, 5 in Bath, 1 in Highland, 11 in Nelson, and 10 in Buckingham.

If you want to read some powerful letters of objection to this permit application, here’s a link (click on ‘Additional Docs’ on the right of the page).

If any of you are interested in taking a road trip to Newport News, let us know and we can arrange a car pool. In the meantime, this citizen board needs to hear from you by email about why they should NOT issue this permit on March 16. Please contact Board members  and express your concerns about this application.  Send your comments via email to Commission Secretary Matt Hull at Matt.Hull@mrc.virginia.gov and request that he distribute your letter to all the commissioners prior to the Friday hearing.

Here are some reasons that the permit should be delayed or simply denied:

  1. They don’t have enough information to guarantee that our waters and river bottoms will not be harmed. They have not done adequate on-the-ground surveys and they haven’t taken any soil samples. They have also failed to identify the public uses of the streams that could be affected, including uses such as drinking water, fishing, wildlife habitat enhancement, and outdoor recreation. The information provided to landowners is cursory and riddled with errors. [click here to read some letters from Augusta County landowners]
  2. Dominion’s rationale for proposing the less safe, less environmentally friendly open-cut trenching for many stream crossings rather than horizontal directional drilling is that the former is less costly to the company’s budget. The costs incurred by a private corporation CANNOT be a consideration in a public resource.
  3. Dominion has not provided any evidence to ensure that trout streams will not be harmed.
  4. The company has not shown how it will keep increased sediment from construction out of the Chesapeake Bay. 

In your communication to the VMRC board, remind them that their duty lies with protecting the public trust under which these streams and rivers exist. Feel free to personalize your email with your story of how you, as a citizen of Virginia, use these waters and what the potential for permanent damage to this amazing natural resource is. You can certainly mention those specific waterways that will be crossed, but you do not have to; you also do not need to know construction details. Include photos if you want. We all know that cutting through or drilling under river beds causes mud spills and erosion. The type of hurricane-related flooding that we experience regularly can scour riverbeds and expose pipes that could lead to disaster. 

Natural Gas Is Bad for Virginia

In a Letter to the Editor of the Roanoke Times, Jennifer Sims summarizes the “ruinous public policy described in the Jan. 26 commentary ‘Expanding access to natural gas is smart public policy.'” She points out that:

  • Instead of carbon, liquid natural gas (LNG) emits methane, a dangerous heat-producing greenhouse gas, and that the MVP and ACP “would produce the equivalent of 20+ coal plants in terms of greenhouse gases.”
  • The fracked natural gas in the MVP and ACP will NOT be available to anyone in the 20 counties through which the pipelines pass, but is destined for existing and new export contracts.
  • The fracked natural gas is NOT “safe, clean, reliable, affordable and abundant,” as the January 26 opinion piece claimed. Distribution pipelines have about 150 incidents or accidents each year; “ratepayers will be forced to foot the construction bill, business and landowners along both paths will have their private property seized and devalued and we will see a significant loss in tourism revenue.”

She concludes, “it is not a good public policy to introduce 1,000 miles of sediment dumps and herbicides into waterways, miles of mountaintop removal, abuse of eminent domain, loss of tourism revenue and pollution-emitting compressor stations into our Commonwealth.”