Augusta Free Press

Augusta County Alliance comments on DEQ pipeline announcement

Augusta County Alliance is disappointed that Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality does not intend to review the impacts to the 189 streams and rivers and 43 wetlands that will be crossed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Augusta County.

“Like many communities along the pipeline route, we were relieved at the news last month that DEQ was opting to do a thorough and complete review of water impacts in Virginia,” said Augusta County Alliance co-chair Nancy Sorrells. “We have just learned that, contrary to what was reported April 7, DEQ will not require site-specific analysis of Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s crossings of streams and wetlands to ensure that they will all comply with state water quality standards.”

According to DEQ officials, the state will instead defer to the “blanket” permitting by the Army Corps of Engineers, which does not look at individual crossings.

The leaders and citizens in the Augusta County area are pro-water. Mayor of Staunton Carolyn Dull traveled to Richmond May 17 to convey to State Water Control Board members the risks to public water supplies, including the Gardner Spring recharge area, posed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Augusta County Board of Supervisors and the Service Authority have repeatedly stated their concerns about the proposed pipeline’s risk to water resources. The county has invested thousands in studying, documenting, and protecting its water and recently became the first county in the state to ban fracking.

“Sadly, the federal government has taken away much of the state’s authority over this massive pipeline project, with one important exception: the review of water impacts,” said Sorrells. “It’s unimaginable that Virginia is choosing to defer to the federal government its only meaningful role in the pipeline permitting process. We can only hope that DEQ will reverse course, and opt to do its job and conduct proper and thorough reviews of the wetland, stream and river crossings in order to protect our valuable water resources.”

“Water is the driving force behind Augusta County’s quality of life. This incredible resource that flows across our lands provides safe and pure drinking water for our homes, schools, businesses, and farms. Our economic engine is fueled with water, but our water is also the headwaters of the James and Shenandoah Rivers and winds up in Washington, D.C., Richmond, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Why wouldn’t DEQ want to protect our state’s water to the fullest extent possible?” questioned Sorrells.

 

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