My Water Is Our Water


There is NIMBY. Understandably, that is seen as an “all about me” attitude, dismissive of the harm done to others as long as I or my interests are not directly damaged.

But in Floyd, there is NIMWS. Not In My Watershed. It is a larger concern than NIMBY. What happens to you matters to me. Briefly, here’s why the pipeline is a water issue involving all of us who live here.

Water will be a high-level concern when considering the possible long-term impacts of the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline across Floyd County. Our Blue Ridge geology presents unique uncertainties and known risks from groundwater contamination.

Much more will be said about this one environmental issue in the coming weeks and months, and from that, we will all be better informed about water as a fragile and limiting human and agricultural resource in our county.

For now, I’ll offer one link, an except from that source, and an image [above, click to enlarge] from a source water protection document produced by a group of Floyd Citizens with expert help in 2010.

The point is that there is no such thing as MY WATER here. We share an interwoven plexus, a tissue of rainwater veins that can communicate E. coli and other contaminants across many miles.

While relatively few landowners would be directly impacted by the pipeline’s disturbances to natural and cultural resources–and those perturbations are many–far more wells stand at risk than those within or close to the right-of-way.

We should all know this, going in.


Contamination in Fractured Rock Aquifers ~ USGS

Fractured-rock aquifers are widely distributed near land surface and are highly susceptible to contamination from human activities.

Researchers are developing an improved understanding of the movement of water and contaminants in fractured-rock aquifers, methods for characterization of field conditions, and modeling tools.

Contaminant transport and fate is fundamentally different in fractured rock than in unconsolidated (sand and gravel) aquifers. Significantly more uncertainty exists as to the direction and rate of contaminant migration, as well as the processes and factors that control chemical and microbial transformations.

At many contaminated sites across the Nation, remedial action is delayed or stymied by the complexity of contaminated fractured-rock aquifers.



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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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