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Home Working with Section 106 ACHP Case Digest Winter 2003 Virginia: Construction of the King William Reservoir, King William County
Virginia: Construction of the King William Reservoir, King William County
Agency: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
A reservoir proposed by a Virginia city for an area east of Richmond was designed to ensure the area’s supply of drinking water. It is planned to be built, however, on land that contains numerous prehistoric archeological sites, and would exist between the reservations of the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi tribes.
The district level of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the reservoir’s construction, citing unacceptably adverse impacts to the tribes’ traditional cultural properties and the area’s wetlands. But because the Governor disagreed with the district’s decision, the case was automatically elevated to the Corps of Engineers’ division level for consideration.
In 1997, the City of Newport News, Virginia, applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District to build a reservoir in King William County, east of Richmond, Virginia. The reservoir would help ensure the Tidewater areas supply of drinking water for many years into the future.
Cohoke Creek, on which the King William Reservoir is proposed to be built, King William County, VA (photo courtesy of King William Reservoir Project)
The reservoir would be built on Cohoke Creek, a small tributary of the Pamunkey River, which is surrounded by land that contains numerous prehistoric archeological sites. In addition, the reservoir would be situated between the reservations of the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi tribes. The presence of the reservoir was anticipated to affect several historic properties of traditional cultural significance to the tribes.
From 1997 to 1999, the ACHP consulted on the terms of an agreement for the project with the Corps of Engineers, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, the City of Newport News, tribal representatives, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which was monitoring the consultation process to ensure that the reservoirs impacts to the tribal communities were fully considered.
In 1999, however, the Section 106 consultation process was suspended when the Corps of Engineers Norfolk District denied issuance of the permit, citing unacceptably adverse impacts to the tribes traditional cultural properties and the areas wetlands, as well as disputable figures of future water needs.
Because the Virginia Governor disagreed with the Corps of Engineers district-level decision to deny the permit, the case was automatically elevated to the Corps of Engineers division level for review.
The division requested further comments from various stakeholders and, in 2002, reversed the permit denial and proceeded with the permit review process. The division found that there would be a need for additional water sources for the Tidewater area in the near future, and that construction of the reservoir was a viable and feasible alternative.
The ACHP is currently awaiting a new schedule for consultation on the proposed reservoir project.
Staff contact: Tom McCulloch
Posted May 6, 2003
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