Feb 12, 2018

Solar Farm Sediment Runoff Threatens Chesapeake Bay

The farm’s owners, Coronal Energy, is already taking steps to mitigate sediment runoff in the Muddy Gut Creek and Rappahannock River

Solar panels cause sediment runoff

A new solar power plant in Essex County, Va., has led to sediment runoff in the Muddy Gut Creek, which flows into the Rappahannock River—part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Essex Solar Center, owned and operated by Coronal Energy, released a statement that they are currently in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to manage the sediment runoff and that no fines have been levied yet.

While Coronal Energy blames heavy rains from Jan. 12, residents point to inadequate soil stabilization techniques and a flawed design plan. Brinkwire cites the stripping of vegetation and planting of solar panels in straight rows as major obstacles to drainage and sediment retention commonly found at solar farms.

Coronal Energy has already begun implementing sediment control strategies including sediment traps, silt fences, diversion dikes, rip rap, permanent matting and slope drains. On Feb. 12, the company plans to bring in an engineering consulting firm that specializes in sediment control.