Monday, October 25, 2004
Fairview Elementary School
5815 Ox Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority will hold a public hearing on Washington Gas's proposal to install a 12-inch diameter natural gas main through Fountainhead Regional Park via Wolf Run Shoals Road. The proposed gas line would be bored under the Occoquan Reservoir from a construction staging area within the park.
NVRPA is seeking public comment on the portion of the project that passes through regional parkland. Details of the proposed project can be seen on their website at www.nvrpa.org or can be obtained by contacting Dan Iglhaut at 703-359-4628 or Kate Rudacille at 703-359-4615.
To speak at the hearing, please register in advance by calling Sue O'Reilly at 703-359-4626 (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Planning and Development Department).
Washington Gas is proposing to install a 12-inch diameter natural gas pipeline through Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax County and under the Occoquan Reservoir to serve new development in Prince William County. The proposed 6.1 mile long pipeline would tap into an existing pipeline that runs from Centreville to Woodbridge.
Because Washington Gas is a public utility, this project is regulated by the State Corporation Commission, per the authority granted in Section 56-265.2 of the Virginia Code.
However, the State Corporation Comission's approval is not required if Washington Gas can secure easements from the landowners whose properties are directly affected by the pipeline. These landowners include the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Virginia Dept. of Transportation, the Fairfax County Water Authority, the Occoquan Overlook Homeowners Association and some individual homeowners.
This pipeline would also impact the historic Washington-Rochambeau Wagon Route. The National Park Service published a Statement of National Significance for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route in January 2003 and has additional information posted online as part of their Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Study Project.
Fairfax County Supervisor, Springfield District, Elaine McConnell held a community meeting on August 4 2004 to help ensure that accurate information was available to the public. Prince William Conservation Alliance Board Director William Olson attended this meeting and his notes from the meeting are included below.
The proposed pipeline route crosses Fountainhead Regional Park and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) plans to hold a Public Hearing so citizens can comment on the easement request submitted by Washington Gas. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has posted additional information, including a map showing the proposed location of the pipeline, online at www.nvrpa.org. This map of the proposed route was originally published in the Connection Newspapers.
A REVIEW OF CURRENT EVENTS- Posted August 17, 2004
It is our understanding that Washington Gas has acquired the necessary easements within Prince William County. These include:
PUBLIC HEARING -
The NVRPA Board will consider granting the easement through Fountainhead Park and hold a Public Hearing as part of this process. The earliest date for the Board meeting and Public Hearing may be September 16th. The NVRPA Board meets on the third Thursday of each month (except no meeting in August). For more information, contact Kate Rudacille (703.359.4615) or Dan Iglhaut (703.359.4628). Written comments can also be sent:
IF THE NVRPA GRANTS THE EASEMENT . . .
IF THE NVRPA DOES NOT GRANT THE EASEMENT . . .
The Fairfax County Water Authority has not yet received a request from Washington Gas regarding the easement. Fairfax County Water Authority contacts include:
NEWS ARTICLES -
Pipeline Plunges Under Water, by Mirza Kurspahic, The Connection Newspapers; August 12 2003
Pipeline Plan Not Winning Many Over, by Jason Jacks, Fairfax Times; August 11 2004
NOTES FROM THE AUGUST 4, 2004, 7:30 p.m. COMMUNITY MEETING held at the West Springfield Government Center, Fairfax County, VA and Hosted by Fairfax County Supervisor Elaine McDonnell, Springfield District
Compiled by Bill Olson, Prince William Conservation Alliance.
About 50 persons attended, including:
Todd Hafner and Kate Rudacille, NVRPA
Burton Rubin, Fairfax County Water Authority Board of Directors, Springfield District
Fairfax County Staff
Charles Cheek, John Milner Associates, Archeologists
Jim Chesley, Occoquan Watershed Coalition, and other members
John McAnaw, Bull Run Civil War Roundtable
Residents of properties along proposed pipeline (mostly disgruntled)
Supervisor McConnell opened the meeting with a statement of the purpose, saying that this was an informational meeting. Supervisor McConnell said that because of inquiries to her office, some of which had erroneous assumptions, she wanted to ensure that correct information was made available to the citizens. She stated repeatedly that the BOS and Fairfax County were not involved in the approval of the project, and called upon a member of the Fairfax County Attorneys staff to explain the governments involvement.
Fairfax County Attorney Comments
The attorney representing Fairfax County, Dennis Bates, explained that the county does have construction overview. Under the code of VA, there is a "Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity." The community response is considered in the certificate, together with public convenience, environmental, public safety, economic issues etc. Public Utilities are controlled by the State Corporation Commission, which is appointed by the General Assembly (3 members). The need for certificate is related to determination if the project "Normal" or "Unusual", Hearings by the Corporation Commission can be held based upon petition of 20 concerned citizens. Questions were raised by homeowners with respect to "easements." It was pointed out that most of the pipeline would be on VDOT right of way, and that easements are being sought from other property owners where required, by NVRPA, and there also must be approval by Fairfax Water (after the final route is established and NVRPA approves the easement). Both Boards are needed to approve easements.
It was also pointed out, that the utilities must provide adequate service, and the failure of providing service, including to new customers, can also be forced by the Corporation Commission.
Several citizens complained about lack of notification about the project.
Washington Gas Power Point Presentation
Provided by : Huey Battle, Hardeep Rana, Abraham Habtu
The need for the pipeline was related to a 3.8% growth in customers of Washington Gas in the region. Most of the growth is in Prince William County. The primary main, a 30" 300 psi main comes from Chantilly across Fairfax County to Rt. 1. A single secondary main comes into Prince William County east of the Reservoir. With the expansion of customers west of Dale City, the pressure under peak loads, and with more customers, is less than adequate. The additional 12" pipeline would add capacity to the PW distribution system. 12" pipelines are also 300 psi.
The permits and easements will include County Construction permits, VDOT, Corps of Engineers, Fairfax Water, NVRPA, Erosion and Sediment Control. Washington Gas believes this is a "Normal" project not Corporation Commission involvement.
The route proposed in both Fairfax & PW County was presented by map and description. The Fountainhead Park route was moved from the first position proposed at the end of Wolf Run Shoals Road in Fairfax, to a cleared area along the driveway in the park, between Wolf Run Shoals and the Park Rangers home. The staging area is 250' by 150', and the excavation is 10' x 10'. the horizontal drilling from the park will go to the proximal end of Occoquan Overlook Road in PW County. A pilot hole will first be dug, followed by an 18" hole. The pipe sections are assembled and welded together on site. The pipe is high carbon steel w/polyethylene coating. Drilling mud will be used to lubricate the passage of the pipe, and prevent damage to the coating. The pipe is expected to last forever, as the gas in acid free and does not contain corrosive contaminants. Any leakage can be repaired from inside of the pipe with robotic equipment. (Made as good as new.)
The historic cultural resouce importance of this area, including the Washington-Rochambeau Wagon Route, and the civil war emplacements was emphasized by John McAnaw, Bull Run Civil War Round Table.
An engineer asked many questions regarding the experience of the installation crew, accuracy of the horizontal drilling, effect of moist soils, quality of the gas, etc.
Questions were asked as to approval status in PW County, and it was mentioned that except for the Occoquan Overlook HOA, and one homeowner, the easements were primarily from VDOT, on existing right of way. There also was question about the 1 1/2 year old Dominion Power pipeline across the Potomac, and it was pointed out that this was on an existing powerline right of way across the Occoquan and through the NVRPA land.
The NVRPA has not yet determined if they will place the easement proposal on the Board Agenda at their next meeting (3rd Thursday in September, but September 16th is Rosh Hoshanah)
Several questions were raised about "public hearings" and lack of public notification. Alternatives were discussed, with Washington Gas taking the position that the plan as presented was most cost effective, and efficient with respect to meeting the problem of expansion of service to PW County. A question was raised as to whether this was a temporary fix, as the growth rate and expansion in PW County is likely to continue with the eventual need for additional capacity and more crossings of the Occoquan.