Local brewery concerned about Mountain Valley Pipeline

With the concerns raised about possible water contamination from the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Parkway Brewing Company worries it could affect their products.

The sound of a bottle assembly line may not be the most pleasant sound out there, but to Mike Pensinger, the General Manager at Parkway Brewery Company, it is the sound of money.

Tuesday, they were bottling a smaller batch of one of their beers, around 80 barrels. But regardless of the size of the batch, he says all of the beer starts the same way.

"The fact is that beer is 98% water," he said.

So this raises concerns for the Salem brewery that pulls its water from the same Roanoke River that Delegate Sam Rasoul says could be affected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Pensinger says what it all boils down to is that if the water is bad then the beer will be bad.

"Beer comes from many different places. It has four main ingredients, but the biggest impact you can have is the water," he said.

Rasoul lists several problems that could affect the Roanoke River should the pipeline move forward. One of those being sedimentation issues. If sedimentation rates rise too much, companies that rely on water so much, like breweries, won't be able to use it. Pensinger says this could hurt the craft beer movement currently taking place in our region.

"If I was one of the big breweries coming to town, and I found out that we wouldn't be able to suck water off of the river because the sedimentation was so high. Why would I do that? Why would I come to a place that has the potential to not have water available at a specific time," said Pensinger.

Not only could it scare away future breweries, but he says it could also have major impacts on the breweries already here. He says, if the water changes, it will change the taste of the beer brewed with it. So if even one batch of beer is affected it could cost him or any other brewery a lot of money.

"We'd have to pull it all back, we'd have the cost of that, we'd have the damage to the brand, and we'd have the potential loss of revenue over 25,000 dollars from a single batch," he explained.

Pensinger says he wants to make sure we know all the risks and possible consequences before the pipeline is built in order to know whether it's truly worth it in the long run.

Mountain Valley Pipeline released this statement about the concerns raised Tuesday:

"As stated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the FERC, MVP constructions activities are not likely to significantly impact groundwater resources because the majority of construction would involve shallow excavations. To begin, by adhering to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan specifically designed for the project, MVP would prevent or adequately minimize accidental spills or materials leaks during construction activities. In addition, prior to construction MVP would file contingency plans outlining measures that would be taken to minimize potential impacts on public surface water supplies. Finally, MVP would identify drinking water resources within 150’ of construction or 500’ in karst topography areas and conduct pre-construction water quality and water yield surveys on water resources where access was granted to conduct such surveys. MVP would also conduct post-construction monitoring, with the landowner’s permission, of all water wells, springs, and other drinking water supply sources within 150’ of construction or 500’ in karst areas."


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