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Senate Amends Water Protection Bill

Martin Valent
West Virginia Legislature

Senators offered amendments Monday to Senate Bill 373, relating to water resources protection.

Senate Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo offered new exclusions as well as substantive amendments:

  • Tanks regulated under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act section of the Clean Water Act are excluded.
  • Tanks holding fuels that change from a liquid to gas when exposed to atmospheric conditions are excluded.
  • All public water distribution systems have until July 1, 2015 to submit a Source Water Protection Plan.
  • Those plans must be submitted to the Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health by July 1, 2015. The Bureau will then share those plans with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Senate Finance Chairman Senator Roman Prezioso also moved to amend the bill in the section setting up two new special revenue accounts.

Senate Bill 373 creates the Aboveground Storage Tank Administrative Fund and the Leaking Aboveground Storage Tank Response Fund, but necessary language was left out of the bill to create the funding sources for the accounts.

“Generally a bill like this would go to the Finance Committee,” Prezioso said Monday, “but as this bill proceeded and when it came down to the floor, it was easy for the Finance attorneys to insert the appropriate language.”

“With the added language, those funds could be collected, they could be deposited and then they could also be appropriated and spent to do the things that they need to do.”

The two funds will collect the annual fees companies will submit to have their tanks inspected by the DEP as well as any fines they may have to pay for a leaking tank, but those amounts are not determined by the bill.

If the bill is passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, the DEP will be able to write emergency rules defining those amounts. Those rules will then be submitted to the legislature for approval during next year’s legislative session.

Senate Bill 373 will be put to a vote in the Senate Tuesday.

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