Virginia Water Board looks the other way on pipeline problems

Residents downstream from construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in western Virginia document signs of erosion from the project. (© Adrienne Ryder/Virginians Against Pipelines)

The Virginia State Water Control Board gave up an important opportunity Tuesday when it chose not to take steps to amend or revoke water permits for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. The 4-3 decision against the motion to begin the amendment or revocation process for the permits came after a more than three hour meeting in which Department of Environmental Quality water officials gave a nearly two hour presentation. This was followed by thirty minutes allotted to independent technical and legal experts from the community, environmental advocates, and people affected by recent water erosion problems.

Board member Timothy Hayes admitted that there were severe problems that needed to be addressed and referred to one in particular on Bent Mountain.

We can’t have people up there where that’s their only source of drinking water.”

Nevertheless, Hayes voted with the usual bloc on the water board to move ahead with DEQ’s current plans, referring to an incomplete understanding of the board’s authority to amend or revoke the permits.

Bent Mountain is just one location where citizens who depend on well water are concerned about losing access to drinking water and, in some cases, potential contamination of their drinking water.

We have seen firsthand that this pipeline construction in Virginia cannot be done without causing serious and permanent sedimentation problems to rivers and streams,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “The people of the Commonwealth deserve better than blanket assurances by the state that everything will be ok when the facts on the ground show that they are not.”

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