Comment to WVDEP on Biological Assessment Rule by May 6

Stream critters need your voice! WVDEP is accepting comments on a rule that weakens the analysis of the aquatic life found in a stream to assess whether the stream is meeting the state’s water quality standards. You can submit comments online through May 6. A public hearing on the rule is scheduled for May 6, at 6pm at WVDEP Headquarters. Read WV Rivers’ draft comments.

This new method was developed by WVDEP in response to legislation the WV Coal Association lobbied to pass, including Senate Bill 687 in 2017.

Our water quality standards say that a stream must be able to support aquatic life. When this standard is applied, an assessment of the benthic macro invertebrates (aka stream bugs) is conducted. But the question is: How much life can be killed before action is taken to reduce pollution? Learn how WV Rivers’ volunteers use biological assessments to determine water quality here.

To be able to address pollution before it kills off stream life, the most precise measurement to assess stream life should be used. The WVDEP is proposing to use an outdated method. Since 2010, the EPA has recommended WVDEP adopt a more scientifically precise system called GLIMPSS. EPA has also opposed WVDEP putting certain streams in a “grey zone” category where compliance with water quality standards is not determined. This grey zone keeps streams from receiving the help they need to meet our water quality standards. Check out our biological assessment fact sheet to learn more.

You can submit comments on the proposed rule through May 6. Oral comments can be submitted during a public hearing at 6:00PM on May 6 at the WVDEP Headquarters in Charleston. Comments can be submitted online here.

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