Preview of Coming (Un)Attractions

Just as surely as we can expect Robins in the spring or a Presidential tweet at midnight, the West Virginia Legislature will consider a change to the water quality standards.  We may as well be ready.

The question is how clean we keep state waters.  Under current law, different streams can be classified as suitable for different uses.  It can be classified as Category A which means that, once it is treated, it is good enough to drink.  It could be given a lesser classification, meaning it does not have to be quite as clean.

Right now the regulations put almost all West Virginia water in Category A.  This does not mean that all West Virginia waters are actually drinkable right now but we are working toward that goal.

If some waters were reclassified, then any industrial user operating near those waters would not have to meet such a high standard and could discharge more pollution into the stream.  The possibility of getting to do this routinely tempts someone to ask the Legislature to change the water quality standards.  So far the efforts have been unsuccessful but that does not keep someone from trying.

This is particularly important for rural people.  The argument usually is that we should save the Category A designation for streams where there is a public water intake.  For rural people who rely upon streams or wells, every stream is a water supply.