By Della Batts
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:54 PM ED
ROANOKE RAPIDS — The Roanoke River is one of the most vital resources to the Roanoke Valley. The water it provides daily is vital for maintaining current levels of development for future growth. The Roanoke River Basin Association has been working to protect this valuable resource since 1945. It is a coalition of members from Virginia and North Carolina who work to protect the river’s development, use, preservation and enhancement.
Instrumental in the fight against the Virginia Beach Pipeline, lately the RRBA has tackled concerns of possible interbasin water transfers in the lower Roanoke and possible uranium mining in the upper Roanoke River. The formation of the Bi-State Commission between Virginia and North Carolina has members hopeful the two states will work together for the betterment of the basin. The RRBA was instrumental in the formation of that commission. In a recent meeting of the board they discussed these and other issues.
According to a news release from Vice President Gene Addesso, the board was updated on the formation of the Lower Roanoke Inter-Basin Transfer of water (IBT) coalition. The group is organizing as a non-profit organization and will address the issue of interbasin water transfer from the Roanoke River. This is in response to a recent request from Kerr Lake Regional Water System to more than double its daily interbasin water transfer levels. The RRBA voted to formally recognize the organization.
In a similar forum, Addesso congratulated Bi-State Commission Director John Fields who was elected chair. The commission works to make recommendations to Virginia and North Carolina government concerning issues involving the Roanoke River. Addesso said, “It took the North Carolina side six years to get organized. Virginia has been organized and has been meeting over those years. The issue was eventually addressed with Rep. Lucy Allen and Sen. A.B. Swindle who got things moving in North Carolina.”
The commission has held three meetings with Addesso and RRBA Director Rick Seekins facilitating. “During the initial meetings an Ad-Hoc Water Allocation Committee was set up to develop a protocol by which Virginia and North Carolina could agree and advise the Corps of Engineers regarding allocation of water supply from Kerr Lake. This committee is made up of experts in the field of water management and is active,” said Addesso.
The organization hasn’t made up its mind yet concerning proposed uranium mining in Virginia, by Virginia Uranium Ltd., an issue that’s becoming major in Southside Virginia. After looking at the scope of a proposed study by the National Academy of Sciences the organization joined the Dan River Basin Association in saying “the current scope of the study is too general and does not really address the potential danger to the environment and health of the resources and citizens of the basin.”
Addesso said, “The irony now is the study will be funded by the Virginia Uranium Mining Company due to the lack of the State of Virginia funds to do so. It is naturally in the best interest for them to get the study complete. This makes the study suspect relative to objectivity. It is felt a total ‘neutral’ body should be setting the parameters and conducting the study.”
At the meeting, Rives Manning said he felt the study should be conducted by a group with no special or biased interest and made a motion the Bi-State Commission present specific parameters for the study.
Virginia Uranium Ltd, recently merged with Santoy Resources Ltd., to form Virginia Energy Resources Inc. Santoy is described by Alpha Trade Finance, a digital media and marketing company at finance.alphatrade.com, as a “junior Canadian mineral exploration company focused on discovering and developing high-grade uranium deposits,” out of Vancouver.
Alpha Trade said, “Santoy has actively been acquiring strategically located uranium properties within four main geographic locations for uranium occurrences ... These projects are located on favorable geological trends and are in close proximity to known deposits. The price of uranium has been steadily increasing due to a growing demand in the energy sector, which has been brought forth by dwindling supplies of uranium, increased life expectancy of current reactors, announced plans for many new reactors worldwide and an increased acceptance of nuclear power worldwide. With Santoy's significant uranium holdings, well over 1 million acres, the company has positioned itself to leverage from the current and continuing appeal of this valuable commodity.”
The board got an update on the grass carp situation in Lake Gaston. Manning said legislation was recently passed to prevent killing of the carp in the lake because they were introduced for specific purposes. The hybridized fish is designed specifically to eat hydrilla and costs the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council more than $4 per fish.
Addesso said guest speaker, Tom Fransen, deputy director of N.C. Division of Water Resources, held a discussion on key projects in his division. “Their main objectives presently are water supply planning, water allocation and drought management in North Carolina,” said Addesso.
Reportedly, Co-chair Fransen also updated the board on the status of the Kerr Lake Regional Water System’s IBT request and the work being done by the Bi-State Commission Ad Hoc Committee on water allocation from Kerr Lake.