Montgomery County landowners fear water woes from pipeline construction

Published: May. 24, 2018 at 8:24 PM EDT
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David Hancock was concerned last Friday when he saw muddy water in a spring-fed pond on his neighbor's property.

"You know I'm 62 years old and we've never have seen mud in this area before," Hancock told us. "There's no development or disturbed areas around here so it had to come underground."

Hancock alerted Linda Sink, whose family has owned land in the area for almost 75 years.

"We were extremely upset and fearful that it could also breach our true water supply, which is up toward Mill Creek," Sink said.

Sink's property doesn't lie in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but it's close. And the work is moving quickly nearby, where the chainsaws have been replaced by heavy equipment.

When we visited the area Wednesday night, former tree sitter Red Terry was there in solidarity, saying her neighbors on Bent Mountain and the residents of Catawba have been sharing a similar message for the people of western Virginia.

"This is Roanoke River water here, Mill Creek, That's Smith Mountain Lake, That's Salem, That's Roanoke and it's going to affect em all," Terry said. "And they need to get out of there safety bubble and start paying attention to what's happening around them."

The Mountain Valley Pipeline offered the following response Thursday afternoon:

"The MVP project has satisfied every legal requirement and has been authorized for construction by federal and state agencies. The Virginia DEQ has imposed on MVP the most stringent oversight of a natural gas pipeline project in the department's history, including unprecedented erosion and sediment control plans that cover every foot of the project in Virginia. Other linear infrastructure projects, including pipelines, have been successfully constructed in the region and continue to operate."

"The depth of the pipeline trench for MVP is expected to range from 7-10 feet, depending on the geographical location and terrain, which is far above the depth typically associated with drinking aquifers. However, as part of the project’s approval, the MVP project team prepared and submitted a Water Resources Identification and Testing Plan, which describes the protocols for water supply testing."

"Additionally, MVP has developed a complaint-resolution process through which anyone who suspects a project-related impact on drinking water supplies can submit a claim. MVP will thoroughly investigate each claim based on the timing, distance, hydrogeologic setting, physical condition of the water supply, and other site conditions."

Pipeline opponents are sharing concerns about stream and river crossings with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which is accepting additional comments through the end of the month.