HARRISONBURG — Mount Sidney residents are taking their concerns about the Flow Alkaline Spring Water facility at Seawright Springs to the Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals at 1:30 p.m. today in a public meeting at the county government center in Verona.
The company has a by-right use to draw less than 100,000 gallons per day from the spring and make no more than 12 truck trips from the site, among other conditions.
Some Mount Sidney residents, such as Shaun Mooney, dispute the operation’s levels from the previous companies, arguing that amount of trucks never made the trips and the amount of gallons pumped from the well was never near the levels allowed in the by-right use.
“The Board of Zoning Appeals agreed to hear an appeal of the county’s decision to allow Flow to operate without a special-use permit,” Mooney said.
Mooney is a member of the Friends of Seawright Springs, a loose collection of Mount Sidney residents who are supporting legal action to try and change the operating conditions for Flow.
These conditions have been in place for more than two decades, said Sandra Bunch, zoning administrator for Augusta County.
“The county has had the position since 1996 and before that it’s always been a by-right use to withdraw water,” she said.
If Flow were to expand its operations at Seawright Springs, it would need a special-use permit, Bunch said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced a $15.5 million investment from Canadian water company Flow Alkaline Spring Water in Augusta County in an April 30 press release. The release also mentioned that the facility, the company’s first in the U.S., would include the creation of 51 jobs and would receive a $250,000 grant from the state.
Residents of Mount Sidney were alarmed at the scale of the project, citing safety concerns about increased truck traffic along the roads and the amount of water being used from the spring, as many residents in the surrounding area rely on well water, among other worries.
A petition to force Flow to secure a special-use permit for operations was circulated and garnered around 100 signatures before being sent to the governor’s office in early May — to no avail.
Mount Sidney residents then brought these concerns to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 8.
At the meeting, Augusta County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald attempted to address some of the residents’ concerns, but residents were not satisfied by his answers, according to previous Daily News-Record reports. This prompted the advancement of the issue to the Board of Zoning Appeals.