Hydrologist: Appalachian Ridges Worst Place for Pipeline

Aug 10, 2017

Scientists have long warned that all construction projects take their toll on underground water resources. Now a water geologist from West Virginia says, planned construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, through Appalachian mountain Ridges, could cause major problems for one of the country’s most important water resources.   

Peters Mountain, where the pipeline will cut underneath the Appalachian Trail. Water runoff from this area feeds directly into nearby Stony Creek, a water source for A.T. hikers, and into underground water supplies. The Mountain Valley pipeline is routed to cross Stony Creek at MP 200.3.
Credit Courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Pamela Dobbs is a hydrologist who studies Appalachian mountain ridges and their headwaters, which feed rivers and streams that fan out for thousands of miles east and west.

"The location of the pipelines in the Appalachian ridges is perhaps the worst situation they could have decided.”

Dobbs says construction of a large pipeline there would cause excess storm water discharge leading to stream bank erosion, excess sediment and decreased water recharge at what she calls the very base of the aquatic food chain.

She continues, “the mountains are where we receive the most precipitation, so if you’re creating a situation such as the pipeline construction, it’s double jeopardy in a sense because  it’s increasing the storm water that is ruining the aquatic habitat and it’s also decreasing the ground water, that is feeding seeps and springs that are maintaining the wetlands in those headwater areas so those aquatic habitats can survive.”

The companies proposing the Mountain Valley pipeline through Virginia and West Virginia say they plan to mitigate and impact to waterways in its path.