Tell DEP: Don’t Weaken Water Quality Standards for Toxic Aluminum

West Virginia Environmental Council Action Alert
July 8, 2013

Tell DEP: Don’t Weaken Water Quality Standards for Toxic Aluminum

Public Hearing July 15 at 6:00 PM

The West Virginia Department of Environmental has proposed changes to 47CSR2 – the Water Quality Standards rule – which would allow significantly more pollution from the discharge of aluminum toxic to aquatic life in West Virginia rivers and streams.

The proposed revisions are drastic and equate to greater than a 13-fold and 46-fold increase over the current limits for acute and chronic aluminum toxicity to aquatic life respectively.

Citing only minimal scientific justification and flawed scientific analysis for these proposed changes, the rule changes as proposed fail to:

  1. Protect the “designated use” of WV streams as required under the federal Clean Water Act.
  2. Protect the value of WV’s unique and irreplaceable water resources.
  3. Protect the public’s interest, rather than the interests of a small number of polluters (primarily coal mining operations) who do not want to pay to treat their waste.

The proposed rule requires the calculation of aluminum limits based on the hardness (or pH) of the stream. The new equation in the rule would significantly weaken stream protections, as compared to the existing rule. As proposed, the rule would weaken the current criterion for trout waters at all hardness values. And, as hardness increases, the standard will become increasingly less stringent.

While the changes in the proposed rule are technical and somewhat difficult to understand, our message is simple: The proposed rule must be withdrawn.

A public hearing on the proposed rule changes will be held at DEP’s Charleston headquarters, 601 57th Street S.E., Charleston, WV 25304, in the Coopers Rock Training Room on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. This is your opportunity to let them know you oppose the rule.

If you cannot attend the public hearing, you can also submit written comments opposing the rule. The official comment period for the rule ends July 29, 2013.

Written comments regarding the rule – 47CSR2 – may be submitted to the following address:

Public Information Office
WV Department of Environmental Protection
601 57th Street SE
Charleston, WV 25304

Comments may also be e-mailed to DEP.Comments@wv.gov

DEP’s legislative rules are important because they determine how the agency implements the state’s environmental laws. Copies of the proposed rules are available at the DEP web site at www.dep.wv.gov/pio/Pages/Rules.aspx. We encourage you to read the proposed rule changes, and attend the public hearings and file written comments, as you feel appropriate.

Thanks for your attention.

Don Garvin
WVEC Legislative Coordinator
DSGJr@aol.com

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