MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- A watershed-protection group wants the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board to throw out a Potomac River pollution permit that state regulators gave a federal facility in Shepherdstown and instead impose Maryland's tougher sampling requirements.
Potomac Riverkeeper said Monday it has filed an administrative appeal challenging the discharge permit that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued last month to the National Conservation Training Center.
The DEP didn't immediately comment on the appeal, which argues that sampling effluent just once a month "renders the permit's limits toothless."
It also argues that Maryland has legal jurisdiction over the Potomac, a drinking water source for nearly 6 million people.
The training center is just one of several West Virginia facilities that discharge directly into the Potomac and is not being singled out, the group said.
"Each one of these treatment plants should be held to the highest standards," said spokesman Brent Walls, "and currently that would be Maryland's."
The training center is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service educational complex that offers courses, conferences and workshops for conservation professionals from throughout the country. It also hosts regular community lectures and panel discussions with writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers and educators on a variety of environmental, ecological and conservation issues.
Director Jay Slack said his facility has run a small wastewater treatment plant since the campus opened in 1997. The complex has about 300 part- and full-time employees, he said, and 226 guest rooms that are primarily used during the workweek.
"As a unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are by the very nature of our agency's mission, focused on the conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitat," he said in an email. "Water quality in the Potomac River is serious matter to us."
Slack said his agency has worked diligently with the West Virginia DEP to ensure it complies with all regulations.
"We take great pride and focus considerable effort to ensure that our facility is as environmentally sound as we can make it," he said.