Pocahontas PSD Consults Expert On Testing For Metals In Water
Snowshoe, WV – Dr. Eli McCoy, Environmental Consulting Vice President with Potesta Engineering, spoke with the Pocahontas Public Service District Board this week about water sampling at the Snowshoe sewage facilities. PSD Chairman Tom Shipley explains why the board wants help from Potesta.
“We’ve been having a conversation with the [West Virginia] Dept of Environmental Protection NPDES [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] writers” he says. “They’ve acquiesced on some of our requests and others they have partially acquiesced on. That puts us in a position where we have to become a little bit more educated about the facts on the ground.”
“We’ve asked Potesta to talk to us a little bit about this and I believe that they’re recommending that we do a study on metals. It makes a difference to the trout and to the DEP and the DNR [Division of Natural Resources] whether the metals are dissolved or whether they’re in sediment [particulate] form.”
The metals in question are copper, lead and zinc according to Dr. McCoy. He says there is ample data available that demonstrates these metals are most harmful to the environment when dissolved in water. He says the WV DEP when considering permits, assumes that level of dissolved metals is very high. However, he says the PSD can get around this possibly erroneous assumption.
“You as a permittee have the ability to go to your stream, collect specific sets of data, go back to DEP and say look, my copper isn’t 95% dissolved, my copper is only 15% dissolved” says Dr. McCoy. “Then the DEP can take that and they can modify their total recoverable limits to give you a higher total recoverable limit which in many cases will get you out of compliance issues.”
Dr. McCoy explains how this could be accomplished.
“First thing we do is put together a sampling plan, give it to DEP; that way they know what we’re doing, they approve it, get them to buy into that process” he says. “And then we start to implement those data; there’s really 12 sampling events over the course of a year. You ought to know within two or three whether or not the translator going to help you.”
He says either Potesta or PSD personnel can do the sampling. PSD member David Litsey says he feels that it should be done by Potesta as an objective third party. But Dr. McCoy says he doesn’t feel the DEP would consider the data any less important if the PSD did the sampling.
There is a substantial difference in cost depending on who does the sampling. Potesta would charge around $21,000.00 for a year of testing. Dr. McCoy says PSD personnel could be trained to do the same sampling for around $10,000.00.
After further discussion, the board asked Dr. McCoy to put together a proposal for three sampling areas – Silver Creek, the Snowshoe Village and the Inn.
In other business, PSD member Amon Tracey suggested giving PSD employees a six percent raise. The employees have not had a raise for at least two years. But since giving the raise may also mean a raise in rates, the board tabled the issue until they have more information on the impact of a raise on customers.