(Pungoteague, Virginia) In a February 15, 2018 letter to David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”), a loosely formed coalition of five citizens from the Eastern Shore of Virginia counties of Accomack and Northampton urged the department to consider placing an injunction on the 83 poultry Care and Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) because they failed to get groundwater withdrawal permits.
Over the last several years, approximately 250-270 large broiler houses, some having the capacity to house 48,000 birds every 43 days, have been constructed or are under construction or in the planning stages in Accomack County.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia draws the majority of its drinking water from the Yorktown aquifer…the same source that is being used or proposed to be used by the CAFOs. Any prospective user who intends to withdraw over 300,000 gallons of groundwater per month in a groundwater management area is required BY LAW to first apply for and receive a permit to do so from the State Water Control Board, a citizen panel appointed by the Governor and a political arm of the DEQ.
The citizens respectfully requesting the injunction “or appropriate action” recently discovered that the DEQ failed to require the CAFO’s to get a groundwater withdrawal permit as required by Virginia Law 62.1-258, and that failure is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000/day for each and every day water is taken from a protected area without a permit.