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West Virginia groups celebrate new clean water rule

posted May 27, 2015, 1:18 PM by Kathleen Tyner   [ updated May 28, 2015, 5:38 AM ]
Rule protects sources that feed drinking water for 1 in 2 West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.VA. – The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and other members of the WV Safe Water Roundtable support a new rule that restores protections for West Virginia’s vulnerable headwater streams under the Clean Water Act. Over half (54%) of West Virginians get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams now protected under this rule.

“This is a good day for water drinkers, river users, and wildlife in West Virginia,” said West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser. “Our state's headwater streams supply the drinking water sources for millions of people; this rule is important for the health of our communities and everyone downstream.”

Rosser said that for more than a decade, many of our streams have been stuck in a legal limbo caused by two divided Supreme Court decisions, actions of the previous administration and inaction by Congress. The rule clarifies that 8,390 miles of streams that feed into West Virginia’s drinking water sources are protected.

Seventeen organizational members of the WV Safe Water Roundtable, a coalition formed in the wake of the 2014 water crisis, submitted comments in support of the rule. This week, they are meeting with members of the West Virginia congressional delegation to relate concerns about attempts to derail the rule. Senators Manchin and Capito are original co-sponsors of a bill (S. 1140) that would effectively block the rule from taking effect.

Rosser also noted the strong support among many West Virginia small business owners who rely on clean water. “When our elected officials say they stand up for jobs, they should recognize that our state’s small businesses need clean water to be profitable,” said Rosser.

“We believe in the right to do business, but not at the expense of our neighbors’ right to clean water,” said Nancy Ward, a Charleston business owner and co-founder of the WV Sustainable Business Council.

The Clean Water Act rule announced today had been the subject of more than a million public comments, with 87 percent of those responding—including 2,000 West Virginians, supporting the rule.