Governor McAuliffe Announces Agreements to Protect Virginia’s Aquifers
~New permits will support future growth and ensure continued access to clean water~
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced agreements to limit groundwater withdrawals from the Commonwealth’s at-risk coastal aquifers. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will issue new permits for 14 major groundwater users in eastern Virginia, reducing total allowable withdrawals by 69 million gallons a day.
“The health and sustainability of our aquifers is essential for the Commonwealth’s quality of life and the continuing growth of the new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “By embracing practical, forward looking solutions to reduce withdrawals, improve efficiency, and develop alternative water supplies, we are laying the groundwork for sustained and sustainable success. I appreciate the permittees’ willingness to work with my administration and the Department of Environmental Quality to reach these historic agreements.”
Since 1992, the Department of Environmental Quality has reviewed requests to withdraw large quantities of groundwater in the coastal plain. Permits are issued to industry, municipal water supplies, agriculture, and large residential developments. Over pumping has led to significant groundwater declines, measured land subsidence, and increasing saltwater intrusion.
“With today’s announcement, we are proactively addressing an intergenerational threat to our water supply. We are grateful for the spirit of collaboration that permeated this process and made this success possible,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward.
When Governor McAuliffe took office, permits had been issued allowing for the withdrawal of 146 million gallons of groundwater per day. By working with the Commonwealth, the permittees found ways to reduce their allowable consumption by as much as 52 percent.