Roanoke community expresses concern about pipeline's potential impact on drinking water

Delegate Sam Rasoul is asking for more research on Mountain Valley Pipeline.

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - There are growing concerns in the Roanoke area about the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

"The water source is what makes our beer, our beer," said Mike Pensinger, brewmaster for Parkway Brewing Company. 

Pensinger is concerned that the Mountain Valley Pipeline will change the water, causing erosion issues and heightening contamination risks that could have a ripple effect on his business.

"We need to make sure that our sources are protected. We can't make beer without water," said Pensinger. 

Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul, who represents the 11th district, shares that concern.

"We have an economy that is growing, not only by the businesses that are coming in and depending on the water, but also we want to build a recreational brand and the Roanoke River is a key part of that," said Rasoul, 11th district. 

On Tuesday, Rasoul spoke out about his fears. The proposed 301-mile pipeline would carry natural gas through West Virginia and Virginia, including parts of southwest Virginia. Rasoul says more in-depth research is needed on how the pipeline and its construction will affect the water.

"All public hearings and public comment hearings should be suspended indefinitely until we have all the information of the potential impact on our drinking water," said Rasoul. 

The Western Virginia Water Authority says it is watching the pipeline discussion and research closely. Increased sediment could make it more difficult for the authority to pump water into the city.

"The water authority does pump water from the Roanoke River and store it in our Spring Hollow reservoir and we use that as a drinking water source. Having more sediment in the river could potentially reduce the number of days that we pump," said Sarah Baumgardner, public relations manager for the water authority. 

There are two upcoming public hearings on the pipeline in Radford and Chatham.

-Aug. 8, 6 p.m. at Radford University

-Aug. 9, 6 p.m. at Chatham High School auditorium

This week, delegates Greg Habeeb and Joseph Yost were able to get the Department of Environmental Quality to agree to hold two more public hearings in the area.

-Aug. 10, 1 p.m. at Newport Community Center

-Aug. 10, 5 p.m. at Cave Spring High School

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