Local Residents Raise Concerns About Risks Of Pollutants In Stormwater Runoff Affecting Drinking Water
The Jefferson County Foundation (JCF), a nonprofit organization formed by local residents to advocate for sustainable development in the region, has identified Jefferson County’s geology as a priority concern because the qualities of local bedrock make the entire region vulnerable to groundwater contamination. Described as “karst topography,” the fractured bedrock in the area makes it easy for contaminated surface water to quickly seep into the ground and flow for long distances (see article on the contaminated caves under Charles Town in the September 2020 issue of The Observer).
The Case of the Missing Wells
After the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a notice on November 5, 2020 that it was authorizing the Rockwool stone wool insulation manufacturing facility in Ranson to operate under a general water pollution control permit, JCF noted that the source water protection area map submitted as part of the facility’s application process (smaller map at right) marked only 4 drinking water wells within the one mile buffer zone. JCF surveyed residents and researched the public records to identify 100+ wells within the buffer zone (marked as red circles on the larger map above).
In addition to risks posed to the secondary supply watersheds for the Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry municipal water systems (see map), a key concern documented by JCF is the risk of airborne pollutants from the planned factory’s multiple “smokestacks” settling to the ground and washing into the underground streams that connect with these individual wells. It is unclear what action, if any, the DEP will take to address this discrepancy in accounting for the risks posed to the local drinking water.
Images from Jefferson County Foundation website.By Staff Contributor