WV Rivers News: Public Lands Coordinator Wanted, Legislative Update

Water Policy Update: Senate Passes Bill Without Updated Drinking Water Protections — Take Action!

WV Rivers executive director, Angie Rosser, sat down with the West Virginia Press Association to discuss water policy on their program, InDepth. Watch the interview here.

Water quality and the rules that govern it have become a focus of the 2019 legislative session. One of the most controversial and contentious bills this session deals with outdated human health protections in West Virginia’s water quality standards. The House committees will be voting on whether or not to update those protections early next week. Click here to send them a letter today.

WVDEP submitted a bill to the WV Legislature with revisions to our water quality standards that included updates to the allowable limits for 60-toxins, based on the latest science. The first legislative committee to take up the bill removed the updates – the next committee restored the limits – then a third committee removed them again without allowing for any testimony or debate. Last week the WV Senate voted to pass the water bill without the updates. View our policy webpage to learn more about the water bill’s wild ride through the legislature.

You can listen to our executive director discuss water policy on Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval and on InDepth with the West Virginia Press Association.

Now the House is considering the bill. They have the opportunity to restore the updated human health protections. They are hearing from industry interests, but they need to hear from you! Let Delegates know that you need them to protect public health. Tell them you want updated human health protections in West Virginia’s water quality standards. Send a letter here.

Want weekly updates on what’s happening this legislative session? Sign-up for WV Rivers Water Policy News here.

Ohio River Commission Issues New Proposal for Pollution Limits

Dozens of citizens spoke up for strong protections for the Ohio River at yesterday’s ORSANCO meeting in Covington, KY.

Yesterday, 2/14, the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), voted to put a new proposal involving the future of its Pollution Control Standards to public comment. In response to the overwhelming public concern voiced, this move was a redirection of the Commission’s 2018 proposal which would have eliminated the standards altogether. The 2019 Proposal keeps the standards in place, but questions remain about states’ accountability to apply and enforce them.

WV Rivers serves on ORSANCO’s Watershed Organization Advisory Committee, and has been closely involved in representing the public interest in considerations around the Pollution Control Standards of the Ohio River, which serves as the public drinking water source for over 5 million people. We’ll let you know when the 45-day public comment period opens and provide our analysis of the implications of the new proposal. Read more about yesterday’s meeting herehere and here.

We’re Hiring a Public Lands Campaign Coordinator

WV Rivers is looking to add a Public Lands Campaign Coordinator to our team! The position will be responsible for the overall execution and coordination of West Virginians for Public Lands — an alliance of organizations, businesses and individuals committed to protecting and enhancing the benefits of public lands to West Virginians.

We’ll be posting the full job description and instructions on how to apply next week. Stay tuned to WVRivers.org and our Facebook page for the posting!

Good News for Our Public Lands

Special places like the New River Gorge depend on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Photo by Randall Sanger.

We’ve got reason to celebrate! This week, the Senate passed one of the largest public lands packages in decadesThe bill includes renewed and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. West Virginia’s Senators Manchin and Capito both voted yes on the bill. Senator Manchin’s leadership as the ranking member on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was particularly important for the bill’s passage. You can watch his floor speech on the bill here.

Thank Senators Manchin and Capito for their vote for wild public places! Let them know you appreciate their leadership on public lands issues. Send a thank you note here.

This victory for public land wouldn’t have happened without you! Over the last year, thousands of West Virginians stood up and took action for our public lands. Businesses, volunteers, non-profits and citizen activists worked together to make good things happen for our public lands. Learn more about what’s inside the bill here.

Now, the public lands package will head to the House where it has bipartisan support.

Volunteers Play an Important Role in Pipeline Monitoring and Compliance

Impacts from the Mountain Valley Pipeline on Stony Creek. Volunteers detected multiple failed sediment control structures, including a silt fence designed to catch muddy soil and prevent it from entering the stream. After a storm, heavy mud from the construction site overwhelmed the silt fence and collapsed it.

With 3 major pipelines currently under construction, totaling over 10,000 linear acres of earth disturbance, volunteer monitoring efforts are critical in helping to make sure construction is in compliance with regulations. With Trout Unlimited and regional partners, we train volunteers to observe pipeline construction sites, document water quality impacts, and report potential violations through our visual assessment program. These reports are sent to WVDEP as official complaints, which helps inspectors prioritize site visits.

To date, we’ve submitted 5 complaints on the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, and WVDEP has issued 27 violations and fined MXP $122,350. We’ve submitted 15 complaints on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and 22 violations have been issued. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has received 28 complaints and 3 violations have been issued. The most recent violation for the ACP resulted from a complaint we filed using aerial imagery. Read our new blog for more information.

Upcoming Events

February 21: Protecting Your Water with the Piney Creek Watershed Association. Beckley, WV.

April 6: Save Our Streams Workshop. Charleston, WV.

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