The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is conducting a series of public hearings this week regarding permit applications by the owners of 54 poultry houses in Accomack County. The first public hearing was Monday night at Arcadia High School. There will be a public hearing tonight at Eastern Shore Community College and Wednesday night at Northampton High School. The hearings begin at 6 p.m.

A local environmental group, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, has released talking points to be highlighted at the hearings.  Among their contentions is that the poultry house should be required to withdraw water from the Columbia aquifer since that aquifer recharges faster than the Yorktown aquifer. They contend that of the 54 poultry houses, 49 of the withdrawal permits are for use of the Yorktown aquifer. The permits are for facilities already operating so the permit applications reflect where the wells actually draw water.

CBES is also contends that there is no requirement for notice to be given to home owners located in the areas of influence around the existing poultry houses. If the homeowners have a problem, the poultry house owners are responsible for mitigation but are not required to notify them. CBES contends that in situations like these the poultry house owners are the “deciders.”

The full talking points may be viewed at the Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore website.

Citizens can attend any of the three public hearings or can email their comments to withdrawal.permitting@deq.virginia.gov through July 12. The final decision is currently scheduled for September 6.