West Virginia DEP Proposes Changes To State Water Protection Rules
Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection is proposing to update rules and regulations regarding water quality. Some critics of the proposed changes say they may not keep up with the fast changing industrial activities in the state, such as gas drilling.
Don Garvin, legislative coordinator for the West Virginia Environmental Council, says while a conventional gas well might draw in and discharge two hundred thousand gallons of water, a Marcellus shale well could take in as much as six million gallons. He says the DEP is trying to deal with the new industry, but it’s not enough.
“DEP doesn’t have the statutory authority to set up a permit system for water withdrawals, and that’s what really needs to be done. It’s a new industrial activity, and DEP was caught flat-footed.”
The gas industry opposed withdrawal limits proposed during the last legislative session, citing fears it would hurt economic growth. A related issue is that of the minerals dissolved in the water coming out of the gas wells. Garvin says the new DEP rules don’t deal with how the minerals may damage a waterway. He points to a massive fish kill on a tributary of the Monongahela River.
“It was due to the high total dissolved solids in Dunkard Creek – problems not just with Marcellus Shale drilling, but with particularly mining and the water discharged from those sites.”
You can read the proposed changes by visiting the DEP website dep.wv.gov and follow the link to water and waste. Thanks to the WV News Service for information in this report.