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ACTION ALERT: Water and Mountain Valley Pipeline

July 20, 2017

DON’T TOUCH MY DRINKING WATER! was the message at a press conference in Roanoke on July 18, 2017

Download this whole post as a pdf: TELL DEQ DONT TOUCH MY WATER

Your voice can make a difference! SEE DETAILS BELOW

Mountain Valley Pipeline has not yet received any of the many approvals it needs from state and federal agencies. At least two other states – Connecticut and New York – have denied water permits to natural gas pipeline proposals that received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


The Virginia State Water Control Board under Title 9 of Virginia Code can DENY permits to Mountain Valley Pipeline if the project will “impair the beneficial uses of state waters.”

*VA Administrative Code Title 9. Environment, Agency 25. State Water Control BoardChapter 210. Virginia Water Protection Permit Program Regulation9VAC25-210-230. Denial of the VWP Permit or Variance Request.

  1. The board shall make a decision to tentatively deny the VWP permit or variance request if the requirements of this chapter are not met. Basis for denial include, but are not limited to, the following:
  2. The project will result in violations of water quality standards or will impair the beneficial uses of state waters.

…3. The project that the applicant proposed fails to adequately avoid and minimize impacts to state waters to the maximum extent practicable.

  1. The proposed compensatory mitigation plan is insufficient or unsatisfactory for the proposed impacts and fails to achieve no net loss of existing wetland acreage and function and no net loss of functions in all surface waters.

…7. The effect of project impacts, together with other existing or proposed impacts to wetlands, will cause or contribute to a significant impairment of state waters or fish and wildlife resources.

…9. The board determines that the applicant for an Emergency Virginia Water Protection Permit has not demonstrated that there is a substantial threat to public health and safety, and that normal Virginia Water Protection Permit procedures, including public comment provisions, should be followed.

Statutory Authority

  • 62.1-44.15 of the Code of Virginia; § 401 of the Clean Water Act (33 USC § 1251 et seq.).


Spring Hollow and Poor MountainMountain Valley Pipeline threatens four major drinking water sources in the Roanoke region:

  1. Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA) ~ Spring Hollow Water Reservoir
  2. City of Salem Water ~ treatment plant that uses Roanoke River as direct source
  3. Thousands of private ground water wells in Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties
  4. Regional public ground water wells (WVWA and Salem)

No one has ever built a pipeline in Virginia as large as the Mountain Valley Pipeline – 42 inches with 125-foot clearing. It would be more than twice as large as existing 3. Celanesetransmission pipelines and would  cross the Roanoke River and its tributaries over 120 times upstream from the cities of Salem and Roanoke. Yet MVP has only been required to report on the downstream impacts of a small portion of the North Fork’s drainage above Roanoke and none of the South Fork’s drainage.

  • Sedimentation: Removing all vegetation in a 125-foot right of way creates an enormous amount of runoff, especially because much of the proposed route crosses up and down slopes of 30 percent or more. Water quality & quantity can be harmed by sedimentation from erosion, including stormwater runoff. Proper upland impact studies must be conducted to determine downstream impact.
  • Chemicals: Herbicides used to manage vegetation growth, and eroded metals from exposed geology on the pipeline’s right-of-way, may contaminate water resources.
  • Water used in local breweries: local firms such as Parkway Brewery rely on public water supplies for a high quality product.
  • Storm water impacts: many sections of the Roanoke River are already “impaired” and have Total Daily Maximum Load (TDML) limits for storm water. An increase in runoff would create additional water quality and financial burdens on downstream communities.
  • Open cut crossing of Roanoke River: rather than boring underneath the Roanoke River, Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes an open cut crossing less than 2 miles above Spring Hollow Reservoir and approximately 6 miles above the public water intake for the City of Salem.
  • Bacteria: In early July 2017, the installation of a pipeline near Chester, PA punctured an aquifer causing ground water wells in the area to become contaminated with bacteria.
  • Rural water and well water pre-testing: Rural residents have little recourse if their water is contaminated by the pipeline. Local governments lack the funds to reestablish safe water The Virginia Department of Health has already expressed concerns about impacts on water. It recommends a survey be conducted for all water sources within 1000 feet on each side of the proposed pipeline right of way.
  • Blasting: Shallow bedrock along much of the route will likely require blasting during construction, which can cause unpredictable and widespread impacts on water quality and water flows throughout the region.
  • Karst: Karst topography is challenging for predicting underground water flow patterns due to the caves and channels through the limestone. Example: in 2015 the Red Sulphur Springs public water supply in West Virginia was contaminated by diesel spill on pipeline corridor ½ mile away.
  • Stability Testing: Hydrostatic testing used to test the integrity of the pipeline can cause water contamination. This is particular cause for concern given the Karst topography.
  • Leaky Pipes: All pipelines leak, with 10% of methane emissions coming from leaks per EPA. Toxic chemicals travel with natural gas and can contaminate our groundwater.


Any person who lives near the proposed pipeline route should comment on potential dangers to their water and the need for better information from a reliable source (not the pipeline company).

Anyone who lives downstream of the proposed pipeline route, should comment on potential threats to their drinking water or ground water and insist on much more complete information from a reliable source (not the pipeline company) about downstream impacts of the project on both surface and ground water.

In addition, ask that:

DEQ and the Commonwealth of Virginia suspend the comment period and all public hearings until the information necessary to consider the impacts to groundwater supplies is gathered as recommended by the Virginia Department of Health and other stakeholders. This should include:

  1. Thorough study of how much total sediment the pipeline would release into the Roanoke River across the 100 plus crossings both during and after construction, including impacts on downstream communities and their water supplies.
  2. Supplemental review of upland impacts to the Roanoke River Basin.
  3. Sanitary survey within 1000 ft on either side of the pipeline performed by specialists to ensure water sources are protected as specifically recommended by the Virginia Department of Health.
  4. Significant additional dye-testing to trace water flows throughout the pipeline’s impacted area.



The Virginia DEQ has a full webpage devoted to public comment and hearings on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. More details and past filings are available on another DEQ webpage devoted to pipeline requirements. They also have a page outlining the status of current natural gas projects and a list of all the state permits that may be required.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: July 3, 2017 to August 22, 2017


Hand-delivery: DEQ, 629 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Postal mail: DEQ, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218

Email: e-mail to:


DEQ will hold two public hearings where oral comments will be taken. Instructions for making oral comments will be provided at the public hearings. An allotment of three minutes is typical for each oral comment, but the time allowed is set by the hearing officers at the hearings. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include: 1) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person. 2) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people.

  • AUGUST 8, 2017, 6:00 pm to 10 pm. RADFORD UNIVERSITY, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main Street, Radford, VA 24142. Park only in Lot A (adjacent to Auditorium), or Lots E and U (University Drive bridge access to Auditorium).
  • AUGUST 9, 2017, 6:00 to 10:00 pm. CHATHAM HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, Virginia 24531. Park only in designated areas on school property.

In addition, Delegates Greg Habeeb and Joseph Yost have worked with DEQ to schedule additional public meetings regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline in our area (register for these meetings here). These are not public hearings. However, citizens will be able to submit written comments just as they would at a public hearing. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include: 1) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person. 2) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people. Furthermore, participants will be able to ask questions of DEQ Director David Paylor and his staff. The meetings will take place at the following times and locations:



Phone: (804) 786-2078

Fax: (804) 786-7514





SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS – District 21 (Roanoke City and counties of Roanoke, Montgomery and Giles)


PO Box 1179,
Roanoke, VA 24006-1179


DELEGATE GREG HABEEB – 8th District (Salem, Roanoke County, Craig County, Montgomery County)

(540) 915-2962

PO Box 882

Salem, VA 24153

DELEGATE SAM RASOUL – 11th District (Roanoke)

(540) 904-6905

P.O. Box 13842
Roanoke, VA 24037

DELEGATE JOSEPH YOST – 12th District (Giles and part of Montgomery county)

(540) 922-8032

519 Wenonah Ave, Pearisburg, VA 24134

DELEGATE CHRIS HEAD – 17TH District (Roanoke and Botetourt counties, part of Roanoke City)

(540) 283-2839

P.O. Box 19130
Roanoke, VA 24019



 Roanoke Times report on threats to water and additional public meetings

NBC WSLS 10 – report on threats to water

Fox WFXR 21/27 –visited Parkway Brewery in Salem (erroneously reported that construction is slated to start in November)

CBS WDBJ 7 had better video than print coverage on website, where the pipeline got equal time

And they did a separate story on the Habeeb/Yost extra public meetings with DEQ

ABC WSET 13 – primarily a Lynchburg station – good to see them covering Roanoke!



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