Friends of the Rappahannock is working with Essex County, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Coronal Energy to learn more about the very serious stormwater and erosion and sediment control problems at the 200 acre Coronal Energy Essex Solar Center along Muddy Gut Creek in Essex County.

The project has been mired with compliance problems throughout its installation with many Erosion and Sediment controls deemed insufficient by Essex County officials and DEQ.  These problems compounded by extreme weather and poor timing have left Muddy Gut Creek and the wetlands around it smothered in sediment.

The full extent of the damage cannot be estimated as cloudy water continues to make its way through several miles of meandering streams and boggy wetlands before releasing a light brown cloud into the Rappahannock River.

As warmer weather and spring rains approach, we are encouraging an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to on site remediation from Coronal Energy.  At a meeting on site with Coronal Energy, I was able to meet with several stakeholders and really get a first hand look and understanding of the site impacts. We also learned that Geosyntec, an environmental engineering consulting firm that specializes in erosion and sediment control would to assist McCarthy Inc. with damage control at the site.

Friends of the Rappahannock will continue to monitor this situation closely to push for a swift and complete remediation at the site and beyond.

This is not an isolated incident and does not only happen on large infrastructure projects. Erosion and sedimentation is a byproduct of any form of land disturbance if the right prevention measures are not in place. This is why it is so important for local, state, and federal regulators to ensure high quality plans are in place prior to development.  FOR is and has always been committed to working with our partners throughout the process to ensure projects can move forward without degrading the Rappahannock River and our natural resources.

I look forward to continuing to monitor this site and will also utilize the strength of our watershed wide network to ensure that this type of problem doesn’t happen again.

Richard Moncure

Tidal River Steward, Friends of the Rappahannock