Sustained Outrage

Citizens concerned about water standards rule

We had a story in Sunday’s Gazette-Mail about what is expected to be the biggest environmental issue debated during this year’s session of the West Virginia Legislature: Potential reform of oil and gas drilling permitting and enforcement regulations.

But the West Virginia Environmental Council reminds us today that there’s another lingering issue that citizen groups are concerned about:

Every three years each state is required by the federal Clean Water Act to update its water quality standards. It’s called the Triennial Review process, and it’s an integral part of the Clean Water Act’s attempt to ensure that state water quality standards are protective of human health and the environment. Water quality standards are basically the amounts of various pollutants that are allowed to be dumped into our rivers and streams. These standards determine just how clean – or how dirty – our water will be.

DEP is proposing a statewide water quality standard for “Total Dissolved Solids” (TDS) of 500mg/l measured in-stream. This is stronger than Pennsylvania’s standard of 500mg/l which is measured only at public water supply in-takes. However, it is twice as high as the 250mg/l that EPA recommends as the Human Health Standard for total dissolved solids. While WVEC believes the state should adopt the stronger EPA standard, it absolutely should not adopt a weaker standard than is proposed in this rule.

The rules proposal is on the agenda for a meeting this evening of the Joint Legislative Rulemaking-Review Committee.