The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in its March 1 report filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) regarding Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Virginia Power’s) proposed 230-kV rebuild project in Fairfax County, Va., recommended that wetland and stream impacts should be avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable.
As noted in the report, Dominion Virginia Power submitted an application to the SCC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to rebuild, entirely in existing right of way (ROW), about 2.6 miles of existing 230-kV double circuit transmission lines located in Fairfax County. The purpose of the project is to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of the transmission system and to perform needed maintenance on existing facilities.
The lines included in the project are the Jefferson Street–Gum Springs Line #204 and the Ox–Gum Springs Line #220, the report added. The portions of the lines being rebuilt run between two existing substations: the Belvoir substation and the Gum Springs substation. The report further noted that the rebuild project includes the replacement of 48 existing structures with 18 new support structures.
The DEQ recommended that stream impacts should be minimized or avoided by spanning the transmission line across each stream; also, no foundations should be placed within streambeds.
Of natural heritage resources, the report noted that the project area is located within the Huntley Meadows – Dogue Creek Wetlands Conservation Site. That site has been given a biodiversity significance ranking of “B3,” which represents a site of high significance.
Due to the potential for that site to support populations of natural heritage resources, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) recommended that the company, for instance, avoid soil disturbances and placement of staging areas on the north side of the right of way (ROW), and conduct a detailed inventory for Velvet sedge, Brown Bog sedge and other rare plant species in the ROW during their blooming seasons.
Discussing wildlife resources, the report noted that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) documents the state-listed threatened wood turtle from the project area. The report recommended that before project work begins, all contractors associated with work at the site should be made aware of the possibility of encountering wood turtles on site and become familiar with their appearance, status and life history.
Also, to minimize the adverse impacts of linear utility project development on wildlife resources, the DGIF offered such general recommendations as:
- Avoid and minimize impacts to undisturbed forest, wetlands and streams to the fullest extent practicable
- Maintain naturally vegetated buffers of at least 100 feet it width around all on-site wetlands and on both sides of all perennial and intermittent streams, where practicable
- Conduct significant tree removal and ground clearing activities outside of the primary songbird nesting season of March 15 through Aug. 15
Of historic and archaeological resources, the report noted that it is the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ (DHR) opinion that the rebuild project will have no impact on recorded resources within the study area.
The DHR is aware of concerns expressed by Fairfax County regarding potential impacts to Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR)/National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-listed Huntley and remnants of boundary ditches associated with George Washington’s Mount Vernon located in Mount Vernon Wood Park and Huntley Meadows Park. The report added that the county believes that the property’s elevated setting makes it vulnerable to visual impacts, and the DHR believes that concern is reasonable.
Among other things, the report noted that the DHR calls for comprehensive archaeological and architectural surveys in accordance with DHR guidelines by qualified professionals before construction of any SCC-approved alternative.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).