Water Protection for Pipelines

In Virginia, construction of natural gas pipelines is regulated through a variety of environmental programs.  This page is an overview of the programs; please visit the other pages for more details about each pipeline.

Report Pollution or Concerns 

  • Citizens can use this form to report specific water pollution and non-compliance incidents to DEQ or call (804) 698-4003.
  • General inquiries or concerns should be directed to either MountainValleyPipeline@deq.virginia.gov or AtlanticCoastPipeline@deq.Virginia.gov
  • All other concerns should be submitted to LandownerHelp@ferc.gov or call 877-337-2237.
  • Background

    Due to the size and scope of proposed natural gas pipeline projects in Virginia, DEQ has developed additional requirements to ensure that Virginia water quality standards are maintained in all areas affected by the construction of these pipelines. 

    DEQ is requiring Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to provide detailed plans to assess whether construction activities in adjacent areas will adversely affect water quality during construction and to ensure that water quality is maintained into the future. This additional certification goes well beyond other regulatory requirements and will protect water quality across the range of pipeline activities, not just temporary construction impacts to streams and wetlands. 

    The types of additional information developers must provide relate to environmental concerns such as karst geologic features, steep slopes, public water supplies and areas prone to rockslides. See sidebar, ACP and MVP certification and Request for Information (RFI) for ACP and MVP.

    DEQ evaluated this information and developed additional conditions to protect water quality. DEQ also held public hearings on the draft certifications.  Three public hearings for Atlantic Coast Pipeline and two for Mountain Valley Pipeline were held (see below for links to transcripts).

    DEQ prepared a report and recommendations on the certification conditions for the State Water Control Board’s consideration in December 2017.

    Summary

    Five regulatory and review tools provide comprehensive oversight and thorough technical evaluation to ensure that Virginia’s water quality is protected throughout the construction process. 

    1. Environmental impact review. DEQ, along with Virginia’s other natural resource agencies, submitted numerous comments and recommendations on the draft environmental impact statements published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for these pipelines. For example, Virginia identified specific concerns in a number of stream segments crossing watersheds. Virginia recommended additional pre- and post-construction water quality monitoring, heightened erosion and sedimentation control practices, and/or pre-impact characterization of proposed stream and wetland crossings.
    2. Stormwater, erosion and sediment control. DEQ is requiring each pipeline developer to submit detailed, project-specific erosion and sedimentation control and stormwater plans for every foot of land disturbance related to pipeline construction, including access roads and construction lay-down areas. These plans must comply with Virginia’s stormwater and erosion and sediment control regulations that are designed to protect water quality during and after construction. These plans will be reviewed by qualified professionals (either DEQ staff or third-party engineers) and will be posted for public review. An engineering consulting firm will assist in DEQ’s review of the erosion and stormwater plans. The cost of this work is estimated to be approximately $2.2 million.
    3. Federal wetlands and stream regulation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is the federal regulatory partner in permitting dredge and fill activities in wetlands and streams. The Corps’ Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 requires that water quality is protected during the construction of pipelines in wetlands and streams. The Corps will evaluate each wetland and stream crossing to see if it is consistent with the conditions of NWP 12. Because the Corps’ permit only covers construction activities that cross a wetland or stream, DEQ is addressing other water quality impacts through its water certification authority. The conditions provided in NWP 12 are comprehensive and include: coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on threatened and endangered species; requirements to restore the pre-construction conditions at stream crossings using materials that mimic the natural stream bed; mitigation for all permanent loss over 1/10 acre and/or 300 linear feet of waters; a recommendation discouraging directional drilling in karst topography; a recommendation to use Virginia native species for revegetation; and extensive guidance and requirements for countersinking pipes.
    4. Virginia water quality certification. DEQ is requiring water quality certification conditions for all potentially impacted water resources related to activities that may affect water quality outside the temporary construction impacts to stream and wetland crossings. These will provide reasonable assurance that water quality standards are maintained in Virginia’s streams. DEQ has evaluated this information and has developed additional water quality conditions. DEQ also held public hearings on the draft conditions. DEQ will recommend certification conditions for the State Water Control Board’s consideration.
    5. Water quality monitoring. DEQ will conduct its own water quality monitoring to evaluate water quality conditions at a number of locations. Real-time water monitoring stations have been installed at 13 crossings along the proposed routes for both projects.

    Information on inspections, compliance and enforcement will provided as it becomes available.

    Featured Topics

    Notice of Violation (July 2018)

    Stop Work Instructions

    SWCB Updates and info on NW12P public comment

    Mountain Valley Pipeline page

    Atlantic Coast Pipeline documents:

    DEQ environmental regulatory tools factsheet

    Pipeline certification FAQ

    Review and Regulation of Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines
    Slides and presentation to the State Water Control Board July 19, 2017 
    Note: There is a pause at minute 15:45

    ACP and MVP Pipelines Erosion & Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Plan Review

    Section 401 Water Quality Certification documents

    Guidance Memo GM17-2003

    Stormwater Plan 

    Post Construction Methodology

    More Information

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    For problems with accessing information, please contact:
    Ann Regn
    804-698-4000
    Public Information & Outreach

     401 Certification Public hearings
     Atlantic Coast Pipeline -- ACP Hearing brochure     
    Date  Venue Transcript
    8/7/2017  James Madison University
    Festival Conference & Student Center
    Harrisonburg, VA 22807

    Public Hearing Transcript 080717

    8/10/2017  Longwood University
    Jarman Auditorium
    Farmville, VA 23901 
    Public Hearing Transcript 081017
    8/14/2017 Southside Virginia Community College Center for Workforce Development
     Alberta, VA 23821

    Public Hearing Transcript 081417

    Mountain Valley Pipeline --  MVP Hearing brochure   
    8/8/2017  Radford University
    Preston/Bondurant Auditorium
    Radford, VA 24142
    Public Hearing Transcript 080817
    8/9/2017 Chatham High School Auditorium
    Chatham, Virginia  24531
    Public Hearing Transcript 080917
     401 Certification Public Meetings -- Organized by Delegate Greg Habeeb
    Mountain Valley Pipeline           
    8/10/2017  Newport Community Center
    Newport, VA 24128
    Meeting: 1 p.m. Verbal comments will not be recorded or considered submitted. Please register at www.greghabeeb.com/mvp.
    8/10/2017 Cave Spring High School
    Roanoke, VA 24018

    Meeting: 5 p.m.
    Verbal comments will not be recorded or considered submitted. Please register at www.greghabeeb.com/mvp.
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    Virginia Department of
    Environmental Quality
    P.O. Box 1105
    Richmond, VA 23218
    (804) 698-4000


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