A WEST VIRGINIA "WATER CRISIS" - What Crisis?

(01/23/2007)

OPINION AND COMMENT By Bob Weaver

While most water delivery service in West Virginia has been sold to an international conglomerate, the state Department of Environmental Protection wants more data on the state's water, saying they want a statewide water management plan.

DEP officials are presenting a thick document regarding the subject to state lawmakers.

Most WV community water companies were built with tax money. Most of them have been privatized by WV Water Company, then sold to WV-American Water Company, a business held by international interests.

With barely a whimper, the sale of the precious water resource was sold, in turn to be sold back to us and others.

"Although the state is not currently in a crisis situation, the time to collect the necessary data is now, not when the crisis is imminent," says the DEP study.

What crisis?

The DEP report says every year, 4.3 trillion gallons of water are removed from state streams and another 30.7 billion gallons from groundwater.

Lawmakers did mandate the DEP water study after some residents got worried about the purchase of the state’s largest water utility.

The study is being made after the fact.

Gazette environmental writer Ken Ward says those concerns were further fueled by international battles over access to adequate water, and fears that thirsty neighbors would target West Virginia’s abundant supply.

Does that scenario sound familiar?

West Virginia is blessed with a huge water supply and the ability to store it in narrow valleys.

Just like problems portrayed in old western movies, water rights can become a serious problem.

Once tightly controlled as a public utility, it seems the slope is slippery as WV has stamped approval on the sale of most of its water rights.

Who's paying attention?


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