AP NEWS

Water safety panel meets just days before deadline

December 15, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A state water safety committee met on Monday for the first time this year, just five days before its recommendations were due to the Legislature.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the West Virginia Public Water Supply System Study Commission was established in 2014 after a chemical spill at Freedom Industries contaminated drinking water for 300,000 people in the Charleston area.

Committee members told the paper they endorsed the recommendations from an independent water protection study at their meeting. But they also complained they had little time to read the report.

Angie Rosser is executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. She said that few of the commission’s recommendations have ever been acted on.

Recommendations in the independent report include changes to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s spill hotline and using language like “drinking water protection” instead of “source water protection.”

Previous recommendations have included a legislative review of proposed alternate water sources, changing the way spills are reported, and staggering the submission of water protection plans submitted by public utilities.

Rosser told the paper, “What we’ll face someday in the future is another water contamination event, saying, ‘How could this have happened?’ and dust off this report and it’s like, ‘This recommendation about improving the spill report was right here? Why didn’t it get implemented?’”

The state’s Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council has estimated that $17 billion is needed to correct West Virginia’s water infrastructure issues.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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