Fluvanna Review

Fred Cunningham of the Water Permitting Office of the Department of Environmental Quality and Amy Thatcher Owens, regional director of DEQ.  Photo by Tricia JohnsonThe Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), acting on behalf of the James River Association (JRA), will challenge in court a permit issued to Dominion Virginia Power by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The permit allows the discharge of treated wastewater from the Bremo Power Plant into the James River. The SELC will argue that the permit as approved by DEQ does not meet federal standards.
“We are deeply disappointed that the permit approved by the State Water Control Board fell short of fully protecting the James River when the technology to meet stronger quality protections is readily available and affordable,” said Bill Street, CEO of the JRA, in a press release. “We are filing notice of an appeal to ensure that ‘America’s Founding River’ receives the same level of protection as any other waters.”
At the heart of the disagreement is a “mixing zone” – a half-mile length of the James River which the permit allows to be used to dilute the effluent to meet federal limits. Opponents of the permit argue that the treatment plan developed by Dominion is capable of completely cleaning the wastewater of these chemicals before the water is discharged, and say that the permit levels must be lowered to follow the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
The power plant at Bremo stopped using coal to generate electricity in 2014. It now uses natural gas instead. The EPA mandated in 2015 that coal ash ponds at plants that no longer use coal must be closed. This mandate came on the heels of two environmental incidents, one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee, in which water from coal ash ponds at power plants escaped into nearby rivers, contaminating the water with toxic chemicals and threatening the safety of both municipal drinking water downstream and private wells.
Dominion Power’s Chief Environmental Officer Cathy Taylor believes the permit as approved meets all Clean Water Act standards. “In terms of the appeal,” Taylor said, “we believe that this is a very stringent permit that is consistent with the Clean Water Act and we are working very hard to comply with that permit.”
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Board of Supervisors members Patricia Eager and Donald Weaver. Photo by Tricia JohnsonThe Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors (BOS) hosted a public meeting on Feb. 10 to give themselves and county residents a chance to learn more about Dominion Power’s plans to discharge treated wastewater from its coal ash ponds at the Bremo Power Plant into the James River.
A permit drafted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and approved by the state water board on Jan. 14 sets parameters for both the levels of toxins that are permitted to be in the water from the coal ash ponds and the rate at which it can be discharged.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, acting on behalf of the James River Association, has filed a notice to appeal the permit in state court. At the heart of the disagreement over the permit is a half mile long “mixing zone” in the James River in which chemicals in the treated water will be diluted in order to meet federal standards at the end of the zone; opponents of the permit believe the water should meet federal standards before it is discharged.
Fred Cunningham of the DEQ described the use of a mixing zone as a “standard process.” “Once you reach the end of the 2,000-foot zone, water quality standards are met,” he said, “and that is under a worst-case scenario.”
“Why couldn’t Dominion filter everything at the plant?” asked Supervisor Mozell Booker.
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James Arnold Moses III. Photo courtesy of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s OfficeThe man accused of abducting his 3-year-old daughter turned himself in to the Waynesboro Police Department Monday night (Feb. 8), according to the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office.
James Arnold Moses III, 25, of Lyndhurst in Augusta County, had been on the run since the abduction of Haven Melina Moses.
James Moses took his biological daughter from a caretaker’s home at 5128 West River Road near Scottsville in Fluvanna County on Friday evening (Feb. 5) in violation of a protective order, according to the sheriff’s office.
Haven was returned safely to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday evening (Feb. 7) after being missing for about two days, according to authorities.
The incident prompted the Virginia State Police to issue an AMBER alert declaring her to be in “extreme danger.”
“We talked to some of Moses’ family members and explained the best thing we could do was get Haven to a safe place,” said Lt. David Wells of the Fluvanna sheriff’s office. “Later Sunday evening a family member brought Haven to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office.” The girl was safe and unharmed, and is now with her mother, Albemarle resident Nichole Melia, Wells said.
The Fluvanna sheriff’s office has obtained warrants for James Moses for violation of a protective order and parental abduction.
The abduction wasn’t reported until Saturday evening (Feb. 6), when an investigation launched. “We were concerned for her health, safety, and wellbeing with him,” said Wells.

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Leake and Mary Winston.  Photo by Tricia JohnsonIt was 1940, and the Fluvanna Lake Dance Hall on Raccoon Creek was hopping. Country music drifted through the open door; dancers circled the floor to ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky,’ perhaps, or Hank William’s ‘Lovesick Blues.’ World War I was a distant memory now, and the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, which provoked America’s involvement in World War II, was more than a year away. The Great Depression had loosened its grip on the community; the end of an era of privation and fear had made even casual celebrations like the weekly dance more festive, somehow.
Seventeen-year-old Leake Winston had arrived from his home in Goochland County in fine style, driving six of his friends – three couples – to the dance in his 1934 Chevrolet. Mary Brookman, 16, was at the dance with her father. It didn’t take Leake long to spot Mary in the crowd. “She was a pretty girl,” he admitted, with an affectionate grin.
The dance hall was busy every Saturday night, with bands playing country favorites for guests to dance to – ‘square dancing or round dancing’ reads one old flyer. Alcohol was strictly forbidden, but that didn’t stop some people from hiding liquor in their cars, and slipping out now and then for a drink.
Leake Winston danced several dances with Mary, and then asked if he could give her a ride home from the dance. “She wouldn’t tell me yes, I could take her home,” he remembered; “I had to go ask her dad.”
Mary’s father was her only living parent; her mother had died when she was just three years old. As a young man, her father had been a musician. “He used to could play instruments,” Mary remembered, “and he said sometimes he would play all night when he was younger...guitar, or fiddle – that was before he ever married.”  His love for music apparently never faded. “Best dancer in the room, he was,” Mary said with pride, nodding.
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In one year the Fluvanna County Department of Social Services lost 60 percent of its staff, Director Kim Mabe told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday night (Feb. 3).
From August 2014 to August 2015, 15 employees out of a total of 25 left Fluvanna’s social services office. Of those, 12 reported that they left for better money or benefits elsewhere, Mabe said.
“We have become a training ground for bigger surrounding agencies,” Mabe told supervisors.
Because of this, the social services board requested that the Virginia Department of Social Services conduct an alignment study. The study found that most employees make “significantly below” recommended salaries, with some employees up to 49 percent below, Mabe said.
Mabe said that she wants to pay her workers more. But when Supervisor Tony O’Brien began asking about the alignment study, County Administrator Steve Nichols said that social services has typically had money left over in its budget – money that could have been spent on employees. For whatever reason, he said, it has chosen not to do so.
Social services board member Tom Payne took issue with Nichols’ assessment, saying that the social services board has felt tremendous county pressure to not spend additional money on salaries. The clearly emotional issue was not resolved at the meeting.
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