Neighbors still have concerns about spring development

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Neighbors of Seawright Springs in Augusta County are still worried about the project at the springs.

"We do have concerns about water and road safety and the hazards that come with this project," Shaun Mooney, a concerned resident, said.

Earlier this week, the governor's office announced in a press release that Flow Alkaline Spring Water would be establishing its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Augusta County.

The water will be taken from Seawright Springs and bottled at a facility in the Mill Place Commerce Park in Verona.

The neighbors are still concerned about the impact the project will have on their rural community.

"The unknown effect of the safety of tankers going back and forth by the schools down these narrow roads, the unknown of what the pumping will do to the water supply," Tim Lawrence, another concerned neighbor, said.

The company said in a statement that they only use a small portion of the water, and they don't interrupt the natural flow of the springs. They also said they use efficient practices to limit the number of vehicles on the road.

Neighbors said they still have concerns about transparency as well. They say the county was not very open with them about the project, but the county says it wasn't able to be open about project details.

"We absolutely could not discuss this process," Gerald Garber, chair of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, said. "The state attorneys and also the attorneys for this company were very clear: 'do not be talking about this project,' because up until about last week, it was still up in the air."

Garber said the state approached the county with the opportunity. The press release said Virginia was in competition with two other states for the facility.

Now that the project has been announced, Garber said they want to meet with community members.

"Talk about the process, talk about all the things that have been raised, you know address them. Some of them we can address."

However, neighbors said they are still frustrated.

"As residents or citizens here of the Mt. Sidney area, we've learned we don't have a voice," Mooney said.

The press release also said the project would add 51 new jobs in Augusta County, and the company is investing $15.5 million into the project.

According to the release, Governor Northam approved a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Augusta County.

The release also said the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and the Virginia Port Authority all worked with the county on the project.

The full statement from Flow Alkaline Spring Water is below:

We manage our sources to ensure we only use a small fraction of the abundant water that nature provides, and we don’t interrupt the natural flow of spring water through the environment. We also have rigorous water monitoring programs run by professional hydrologists. Flow’s usage is consistent with applicable laws and regulations, but also our deep respect and cherishment of the Earth’s water resources. We are dedicated to sustainable and thoughtful stewardship of our beautiful natural springs for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Our water is taken directly from the aquifer, filled into vehicles with insulated stainless steel tanks, and driven to the production facility. We use modern and fully road-worthy vehicles, exercise quiet braking techniques, and employ certified and highly-trained professional drivers. We also use efficient production practices to minimize the number of vehicles on the road to transport the water.