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Residents in Giles county report sediment in spring water near MVP construction

Muddy water spurts out from the ground, where clear spring water once flowed, residents say. Another spring nearby was a drinking water source for one home, and it has also now been contaminated, according to Donna Pitt, a volunteer with a community organization, Protect Giles County.
Roxy Todd
Radio IQ
Muddy water spurts out from the ground, where clear spring water once flowed, residents say.

As construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline nears completion, nearby residents in Roanoke and Giles counties have reported several incidents of muddy water over the past month. In one case, pipeline workers allegedly drilled into an underground spring, causing what some believe to be permanent damage to a once pristine creek in Giles County.

Equitrans Midstream Corporation, the company that’s building the Mountain Valley Pipeline reported in January to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that they expect to complete construction in March. Many of the final miles of the MVP involve steep hillsides, bores drilled underground, and crossings through wetlands and streams.

Donna Pitt lives in Newport, in Giles County, a community that fought the pipeline in several legal cases over the years. “I feel furious, I feel depressed by what I see,” said Pitt, a volunteer with a community group called Preserve Giles County. “What it’s done to this beautiful pristine environment.”

Pitt pointed to where an underground spring is spewing brown, muddy water—bringing sediment into sinking creek. She reported it to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in late January, and the agency says the case is still under investigation. Irina Calos, spokesperson with DEQ, said “MVP determined that the sediment in the water is related to a bore pit that it has excavated.”

Calos added that “MVP is in the process of developing a plan to minimize impacts.”

MVP has been allowed to continue excavation work and recently placed rocks and sandbags in an attempt to slow the flow of sediment into sinking creek. Not far from the spring, MVP is drilling bore holes to run the pipeline beneath route 42.

Excavation work along the Mountain Valley Pipeline along route 42. A steep hillside has three heavy equipment machines digging dirt and rock to make trenches for the pipe.
Radio IQ
Roxy Todd

It’s not clear if the spring, or an adjacent spring that also now appears muddy, is permanently damaged. Pitt said she believes sinking creek will always be affected because of the incident, because it’s bringing sediment in the water. “They’re not stopping it, they can’t.”

At least one resident now has contaminated drinking water because of the incident, Pitt said.

“I’m furious at politics, I’m furious with my state agencies,” Pitt said. “I’m furious with the governor. It’s almost like, well, we feel like we were sacrificed.”

MVP did not respond to email requests from Radio IQ for a statement about the incident.

Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.