Don’t forget the value of jobs along Kanawha River

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Great Water Crisis of 2014 showed the importance of water people can trust to drink. Many people still do not trust the tap water six months later.

But the event also pointed out how few options the state has to using water from the Elk River, as the water company has done for more than 100 years.

A legislative proposal to use the Kanawha River as a backup source of raw water for the treatment plant was stymied by the fact that the waterway does not meet the standard for safe drinking water. The state exempted a section of the Kanawha downstream from Diamond (near Belle) from the requirement that its water be safe enough to drink.

And with good reason. The river is used by barges and recreational watercraft. Public service districts discharge their treated water from sewers into the Kanawha. Manufacturers also use the river.

Nevertheless, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection held a hearing on Tuesday about the practicality of lifting that exemption.

Several self-styled citizens and environmental groups lobbied for the change.

However, Rebecca Randolph, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, brought in some realistic thinking. The cost of meeting another set of regulations would make manufacturing less competitive — and hence, jeopardize the taxes and jobs manufacturers supply…

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