Sustained Outrage

WVDEP rule changes: Water and women’s health

DEP comments sign


There was a pretty good crowd — as these things go — at last night’s West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection public hearing on water quality standards. As you can read right here in our story on the hearing, no one spoke in favor of WVDEP’s proposals to make it easier to remove drinking water protections for streams and to allow more cancer-causing chemicals to be discharged into state rivers and streams.

Among those who encouraged the public to attend and speak out against the DEP rule changes were representatives of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, which submitted these written comments to agency officials.

At the hearing, Rivers Coalition representatives were also passing out copies of a new report called, “We are bodies of water: The Importance of safe drinking water for protecting women’s and children’s health.” The report focuses on explaining the importance of the longstanding state policy of protecting all rivers and streams as sources and potential sources of drinking water — so-called Category A — which is something that the DEP rule changes would make it easier for industry lobbyists to have changed.

The report explains:

While some states provide drinking water protections only in defined areas around known water intakes, WVDEP’s Category A policy recognizes that clean drinking water across West Virginia is a precious resource, both for protecting the health of the current population and as a foundation for future economic development.

Category A limits concentrations of a wide range of pollutants, several of which, as outlined above, are hazardous to women’s reproductive health. In  many cases, Category A provides the most protective criteria compared to all other uses. Currently, all West Virginia surface waters must meet these
Category A criteria, in order to ensure that West Virginia’s surface waters can be used for human consumption after conventional treatment.

Removing Category A protections would allow more harmful toxins into our rivers and streams. It is imperative to preserve Category A designation for all waters of the state to protect women’s health, the health of future generations, and the health of those living downstream.

You can read the report here: