By John McFerrin
West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina are thick with rivers and streams. More and more, they are (or are proposed to be) thick with pipelines. If the pipelines and the waterways are ever to coexist (whether this is feasible is still up in the air), there will be stream crossings. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline propose over 2600 proposed stream crossings in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Each of these crossings presents a threat to a waterway. Because of the threat to the waterway, each of these crossings must be permitted by, in this situation, the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Because there are so many crossings, and still some questions about whether the pipelines can make all those crossings without violating laws controlling water quality, there has been litigation.
All this can start heads spinning. To help make sense of it all, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Trout Unlimited have published a report Reducing Impacts of Pipelines Crossing Rivers and Streams.
The Report describes (with very helpful pictures and diagrams) the different methods for crossing streams (drilling under, damming or partially damming, etc.) as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. It describes what can go wrong with the crossings and offers some examples of places where crossings have gone wrong.
There is even a summary of the permitting status of these pipelines. There have been a lot of twists and turns on the road to having these pipelines permitted and they are not there yet. The Report provides a summary of the pipelines’ current status in the permitting process.
To see the Report, go to https://wvrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/streamcrossingreport.pdf.