May 06, 2019

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Hearings Set

Virginia poultry groundwater permits hearings will be held in June

Virginia poultry groundwater permits hearings will be held in June

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that three public hearings on groundwater withdrawal permits for poultry farms in Accomack, Va., will be held in June.

According to Delmarva Now, the DEQ representatives gave a briefing April 30 about the draft permits and the evaluation process.

The public hearings will be held on June 24 at Arcadia High School in Oak Hall; June 25 at Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa; and June 26 at Northampton High School in Eastville. All hearings will start at 6 p.m. The speakers may comment on any or all of the draft permits at the hearings, according to Delmarva Now. The comment period for the permits starts May 24 and runs through July 12.

Director of DEQ's Office of Water Supply Scott Kudlas spoke to a crowd at Nandua High School on May 30 about the permits and findings about groundwater withdrawal at the poultry operations.

Five more poultry operations applied for a permit after the consent order deadline and are not part of the discussion, Kudlas said.

"They will be evaluated at a later date, after the 54 have been acted on and the final permits issued," he said to Delmarva Now.

A groundwater withdrawal permit is required for any facility that withdraws more than 300,000 gal a month, according to Delmarva Now.

DEQ is required to ask three main questions when evaluating a permit application including: whether the amount of water the applicant requests is the reasonable amount needed; whether alternative sources that minimize impacts to high-quality groundwater have been evaluated; and how withdrawals are likely to impact aquifers, as well as what other withdrawals are within the drawdown area.

"It's run for 50 years because the aquifer serves as a buffer to the withdrawals, because it functions like storage, like a reservoir—so it takes nearly 50 years to see the entire impact of a withdrawal on water levels," Kudlas told Delmarva Now.

The agency estimated as much as 3.1 million gal of water per day could be needed to support the poultry operations, he said.