DHHR Continues Source Water Protection Plan Hearings

Nov 21, 2016

Credit Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

Since July 1, the state Bureau for Public Health has been holding public hearings across West Virginia to discuss proposed Source Water Protection Plans.

The plans are the result of legislation approved after a 2014 chemical spill in Charleston left hundreds of thousands of people without usable drinking water for days.

Monday evening was the second time citizens in the Kanawha Valley—those who were directly impacted by the spill—were able to comment on their local plan.

The public hearing in South Charleston focused on West Virginia American Water's proposal submitted this summer. The company is one of 125 utilities required to submit the proposals, and Scott Rodeheaver, Assistant Manager for the Source Water Protection Program at DHHR, says public hearings are being held to discuss each one.

“It varies from place to place what the exact issues are," Rodeheaver said, "but I think the people that come are concerned about the long term quality of the water supply in their area.”

Only six people attended Monday’s hearing, including Phil Price. He's a semi-retired analytical chemist who works with the Charleston-based group Advocates for a Safe Water System. Price claims West Virginia American Water’s plans are not adequate.

“Many, many, many, many of the hazards upstream from our intake are excluded from the plan,” Price explained. He points to Yeager Airport as one of those hazards. But Laura Martin, the company’s External Affairs Manager, says her utility is prepared.

“What is outlined in state law is a zone of critical concern and then a zone of peripheral concern, and if we feel that there are entities or aboveground storage tanks or other facilities located outside of those, we have included them in our plan," Martin said.

The plans need final approval from the DHHR before taking effect.