WVDEP Releases Revised Human Health Protections – 5 Things to Know

Yesterday, 3/31, the WVDEP released their plan to update human health protections within West Virginia’s water quality standards. Read it here.

Updates to these protections, called human health criteria, are long overdue. Current protections in our water quality standards are based on data collected over 30 years ago.  

If you’ve followed WV Rivers’ water policy updates, you may recall the ups and downs of the 2019 legislative session when updated human health criteria were proposed to be adopted. But when the WV Manufacturers Association objected, the Legislature bowed to their demands and sent WVDEP back to the drawing board, putting off consideration of updated human health criteria until 2021. Read a recap of the 2019 session here.

After reviewing WVDEP's proposal, we've highlighted 5 quick facts you need to know:

  1. In our recommendations, we asked WVDEP to use a higher fish consumption rate. WVDEP agreed with our analysis and is using the EPA's recommended fish consumption rate.
  2. We asked WVDEP adopt EPA recommended limits that strengthen standards. Of the 94 criteria, WVDEP is proposing to adopt 24.
  3. We recommended WVDEP establish criteria for unregulated chemicals. No new criteria is proposed for unregulated chemicals known to harm to human health. 
  4. We asked WVDEP not to weaken any existing standards. Of the 24 new standards adopted, 13 are proposed to be weakened.
  5. WVDEP is proposing to weaken the standard for Tetrachloroethylene, the chemical responsible for the drinking water contamination in Paden City. In their proposal, WVDEP would allow 10 times more Tetrachloroethylene in surface water that is used as a drinking water source.

What’s next? WVDEP's proposal is available for public comment and you can make your voice heard! We’ll be analyzing the WVDEP's proposal with our Water Policy Workgroup and will share our full analysis of what it means for public health. Watch for an action alert with suggested comments you can share with WVDEP.

On May 19 WVDEP will host a virtual public hearing that anyone can join using an internet connected device or phone. We'll make sure you have the facts on human health criteria so you can weigh-in on this important policy! 

What: Virtual and In-Person Public Hearing (if allowable) on Water Quality Standards
When: May 19, 6:00-8:00PM

To attend the hearing virtually, go here: https://zoom.us/j/429602549 Enter Meeting ID: 429 602 549. To use a phone to call in to meeting, dial: 301 715 8592 and enter Meeting ID: 429 602 549. 

If an in-person hearing is allowable, it will be held at WVDEP Headquarters in the Coopers Rock Conference Room at 6PM on May 19, 2020.

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West Virginia Rivers Coalition
3501 MacCorkle Ave SE #129  | Charleston, West Virginia 25304
304-637-7201 | wvrivers@wvrivers.org

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