POUND, Va. (WJHL) – The Dickenson County Board of Supervisors released a statement threatening legal action against the Town of Pound on Tuesday regarding efforts to address a recent wastewater leak into the Pound River.
The statement says Dickenson County was not warned by the Town of Pound when untreated waste water was released into tributaries of the Pound River. Supervisors say they learned from a health advisory issued by the Virginia Department of Health and a press release issued by the Town of Pound after the fact.
Affected areas include the Pound River Tributary, Flannagan Reservoir and the Pound River itself. The Dickenson County board expressed concerns about impacts to drinking water, as well as personal use with potential loss of “recreational and tourism revenues.”
“The public safety for the citizens of Dickenson County has been or could be jeopardized by the Town of Pound failing to notify Dickenson County of the release of untreated waste water by the Town of Pound,” stated the release, signed by board chairman Josh Evans. “This should not have happened.”
The statement then listed demands for immediate action by the Town of Pound, including:
- Immediately stop the flow of untreated waste water into the Pound River and Flannagan Reservoir.
- Make immediate temporary repairs to stop the flow of untreated waste water into the Pound River and Flannagan Reservoir.
- Immediately acquire State or Federal funding to make permanent repairs to the waste water treatment facility.
- Comply with local, State, and Federal laws and regulations regarding the treatment of waste water.
- Comply with all Department of Health and Department of Environmental Quality regulations.
- Notify the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors immediately upon further waste water leaks.
The release states that if the demands are not met, Dickenson and surrounding counties may take legal action and seek enforcement penalties against the Town of Pound “through various State and Federal Agencies.”
In a statement to WJHL, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported that efforts are underway to repair the wastewater management facility that is currently discharging untreated water. According to the DEQ a significant challenge in the way of repair work is access, with much of the system unreachable due to its location in the river bed.
“Some repairs have been made and the wastewater treatment plant is getting partial treatment and disinfection, but significant inflow of water to the collection system continues,” said Ann Regn, DEQ communications manager. “The system was designed to handle 1/2 million gallons per day (MGD) and is receiving about 1.75 MGD.”
Regn also said the DEQ believes that “the town understands the urgency of the situation and are working to secure emergency services by Thompson and Litton, a contractor familiar with their collection system”
The DEQ has also passed the enforcement case on to the Virginia Attorney General’s office.
According to the VDH statement issued earlier in May, “Until repairs are completed, the discharge of raw sewage is expected to continue.”
The VDH also recommends to “avoid contact with any area of the waterbody where there is water with a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.”
Those exposed to potentially contaminated water are encouraged to wash with soap and water and seek medical care if symptoms develop.