The DPMC has written to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director, David Paylor, insisting that recent information provided by the Department of Conservation and Recreation be entered into the official record for the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The DCR letter, submitted to FERC on August 21st, directly refutes DEQ’s conclusion that there is a “reasonable assurance” that water quality standards will be met if the proposed ACP complies with the conditions in the draft 401 Water Quality Certification.
When DEQ Director, David Paylor, was asked at a recent public meeting to define “reasonable assurance” he deferred to the expertise of the “technical people.”
And now, state agency technical experts have concluded that water resources and other natural resources are indeed threatened by construction of the ACP.
With respect to the proposed ACP route in Highland and Bath Counties, the DCR:
- Recommended a major rerouting of the pipeline (totaling 12 or 18 miles) to avoid significant karst development in the Valley Center, Little Valley, and Burnsville Cove areas.
- Emphasized that the current route options in the Valley Center area are “likely to have significant karst associated issues, including subsidence in the pipeline trench and contamination of nearby springs.”
- Found that land disturbance associated with the ACP corridor in the Little Valley area “could impact the major springs at Bolar.”
- Identified rare species of high biodiversity concern that would be threatened by the pipeline access road across national forest in the Wilson Mountain/Duncan Knob area.
- Designated a new Little Valley Slope Conservation Site where the pipeline would cross the western side of Jack Mountain.
The DCR also addressed other issues and other areas.
The DCR submission to FERC was made just one day before the August 22nd deadline for public comment on DEQ’s Draft 401 Water Quality Certification. This is another example where the DEQ has rushed ahead in the absence of critical information concerning water resource impacts and effectively precluded informed review by its own staff and the public.
Also note that hydrologic analysis submitted on behalf of the DPMC to the DEQ concerning the draft 401 Water Quality Certification indicated that peak runoff would increase in both the Valley Center and Little Valley areas due to changes associated with ACP construction. Increased runoff increases the threat to karst groundwater systems. Dominion, however, argues that no runoff changes will occur and therefore no Stormwater Management Plans are necessary. Dominion suggests that the DEQ accepts this ridiculous argument. It remains to be seen if that is the case.
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