Mottley Lake Study Sought

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FARMVILLE — The Town of Farmville wants an independent assessment of any potential impacts on Mottley Lake from the proposed Luck Stone quarry operation adjacent to the Town’s emergency water source.

And the Town is willing to pay for such an analysis.

Town officials, some of whom recently toured a Luck Stone site, continue to be uneasy over what they regard as a lack of full assurance that a quarry operation, with its explosions, will not negatively impact the lake.

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They have heard people say nothing bad should happen but consider “should” to fall short of a guarantee that nothing bad will happen.

Council members speak of a truly independent study, one that would tell them if, in fact, there is no possibility of negative impact on Mottley Lake or, if there is indeed reason for concern, what the potential danger may be.

“Somebody needs to tell us more than ‘I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,’” council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon said during Town Council’s August work session.

Fellow council member, David E. Whitus, agreed, saying, “I think that’s the major point for all of us—protect the water supply.”

Town Manager Gerald Spates told council members he would seek a cost estimate on the kind of independent study council wants.

Luck Stone Corporation is applying to the Virginia Department of Mines and Mineral Resources for a permit to operate a granite quarry, with the pit location to be developed on 330 acres of property approximately five miles west of Farmville off US 460.

The lake is located several hundred yards from where Town officials expect the quarry site, itself, will be located on those 330 acres.

Town officials believe the geology of Mottley Lake and its surrounding area may possess individual characteristics, in addition to any generic regional similarities. And, therefore, the absence of any quarry-related water supply issues elsewhere in the state or central Virginia doesn’t necessarily translate into an iron-clad assurance for Mottley Lake.

Earlier this summer the Town exercised its right as an adjacent landowner to request that the state hold a public hearing to address the Town’s concerns.

That hearing will be held later this year or in early 2014.

Mottley Lake was purchased by the Town as an emergency water supply in case of a severe drought and Spates has explained to The Herald that Town officials have three major concerns:

1. Possible quarry-related water discharge into the river, which could then impact the Town’s water treatment plant downstream.

2. Any potential impact on water quality in Mottley Lake.

3. And any potential impact, through quarry-related blasting, on the water level in Mottley Lake.

“Mottley Lake is all spring fed. Will that affect the springs? Will it divert the springs to another location? I’d like for somebody to address that and not say, ‘Well, it shouldn’t.’ To say it shouldn’t, there’s always a possibility that it would,” Spates told The Herald.

Luck Stone Corporation’s permit application must undergo “a thorough technical review” by the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, Thomas C. Bibb, Engineering Manager with the department, informed the Town and the public hearing will be held after that review is complete but prior to issuance of a permit.

No date has been set but Bibb assured the town manager that “we will notify you well in advance of the hearing location, time and date.”

In an April 14 letter to Prince Edward’s Board of Supervisors, Land Use & Development Leader for Luck Companies, Benjamin A. Thompson, explains that the application “will facilitate Luck’s ability to begin removal of overburden material as soon as possible from the site in preparation for future mining activities. We will be providing (the department) with an official application and suitable operations and drainage plans per our County Use Permit.”

Thompson also pointed out that “as part of this process, we are also required to notify all landowners within 1,000 feet of the proposed permit boundary, any of whom may request a public hearing be held and hosted by the (department). We have received indication that the…permitting process, as standard review, could take as long as 6-8 months before a permit would be issued.”

Luck Stone, Thompson told supervisors, “is extremely excited about our site in Prince Edward and to be part of the community.”

Referring to a proposal he was going to solicit from a certified geologist during work at the Town’s landfill, Spates offered, “Maybe Luck Stone will contribute to it.”