Advocating in Charleston and Washington, D.C.
WV Rivers is the only statewide organization focused on water policy and protecting public lands headwaters. In our state capital, this work involves intensive science and policy analysis, working to shape legislation and regulations, and collaborating on enforcement. In our nation’s capital it includes advocating sound water policy, ensuring federal funding for safe water programs and public lands in West Virginia, and defending our systems of public lands.
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2018 Water Policy Preview
Below are the water policies we’ll be advocating for during the 2018 West Virginia Legislative session.
Water Quality Standards. We oppose weakening water quality standards. These standards control pollution in order to protect rivers and streams’ designated uses such as drinking water, aquatic life and recreation. Any changes to WV’s water quality standards will be considered through the required triennial review process that begins later this year. The Legislature should not subvert this process by prematurely considering legislation this session.
Drinking Water Protection. We support implementation of the recommendations of the WV Public Water System Supply Study Commission. These include required notice to downstream water utilities of violations of upstream permitted facilities and no further stripping away of the authority of the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. Funding for source water protection programs through the Bureau of Public Health should be maintained.
Stream Gage Funding. We support increased and stabilized funding for stream gages, as recommended by the WV Water Gaging Council. The deadly floods of 2016 show the importance of having a strong network of stream gages to provide an enhanced statewide flood warning system.
Natural Gas Infrastructure. We support implementation of recommendations from the studies mandated by the Horizontal Well Control Act to protect water supplies and public health. These include increased monitoring and impact controls for residences, source water protection areas, and other sensitive areas.
Preserve our Parks. We support current restrictions on logging in our state parks. Mature forests in our state parks add recreational value, as well as provide benefits to water quality and wildlife habitat.
2017 West Virginia Water Policy
HB 2506 – Changing design flow and allowing for overlapping mixing zones. We opposed HB 2506 that would allow more toxins and cancer-causing chemicals into our drinking water supplies. HB2506 Fact Sheet.
Revisions to Water Quality Standards. We support protective water quality standards that protect our right to use and enjoy clean water. SB687 Fact Sheet.
Aluminum and Selenium
The WV Legislature approved revisions to water quality standards that would allow more toxic Aluminum and Selenium pollution in our rivers and streams. Before the revisions go into effect, they must be approved by the EPA. The Selenium revision was approved by EPA in June 2016. Approval or disapproval by EPA of the Aluminum revision is still pending.The EPA’s concerns about these changes are reflected in their February 23, 2016 letter to WVDEP available EPA Comments on WV Se and Al 2-23-16.
Triennial Review of State Water Quality Standards
We participated in regular meetings of the WVDEP Water Quality Standards Program and commenting on their triennial review of the state standards. Five revisions were being proposed – a summary can be found here – however WVDEP withdrew the rule before it would go to the 2017 legislative approval process.
Aboveground Storage Tank Act
We support oversight of aboveground storage tanks to adequately protect water resources. In 2017, HB 2811 exempts 2,300 oil and gas tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, yet maintains their requirements to register, label and provide notice to public water systems. In 2016, the Legislature passed the Aboveground Storage Tank Act rule:
Proposed Rules Governing Horizontal Well Development
We support strong regulation of “fracking” and its waste to adequately protect water resources. In 2016, we opposed a dangerous bill that would change permitting processes, SB 565, did not pass. We also monitored SB 601 that dealt with regulation of drilling waste landfills. We are participating in major proposed pipeline projects to minimize impacts to water quality and quantity.
Federal Water Policy
EPA/Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Rule
We support the clarification of headwater streams and wetlands are under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act.
OSMRE Stream Protection Rule
We support stronger protections of streams threatened by mining impacts.
Visit our Publications page to read or download guides to getting involved in your community and in policy.