Regarding the Elk River chemical spill
An item I haven't seen mentioned in news reports is a threat assessment by West Virginia American Water of the water supply system, though it is required by federal rules. In my experience, the assessments were frequently prepared with input from others, such as state hazardous material regulators, building departments and fire departments. Fire departments were good partners because they have an inherent interest in knowing what is in a commercial or industrial building when called to a fire. In Washington, police and fire departments have broad authority to protect public safety and they exercised it. I don't know if that is the case in West Virginia. I recently moved here and have noticed many differences from the state of Washington.
Nevertheless, cooperation achieves a lot. The various articles suggest a growing desire to find solutions. State law is a great asset and having overlapping legal authority on multiple levels ensures that action; coordinated action is effective. Also examining the legal authority of local fire departments to protect public safety can be a good start and may be a faster start. Local jurisdictions tend to have faster response times than state.
Richard A. Koch, P.E.
Retired Senior Environment Engineer
Washington Department of Ecology,
Water Quality Program
W.Va. isn't helping smoking problem
The latest surgeon general report on smoking is eye-opening, showing worse danger.
West Virginia continues to lead the nation in smoking and tobacco diseases, deaths, and epidemic costs. Yet policymakers continue to listen to the tobacco lobby and cut funding for prevention and cessation programs.
Where is the WV American Water SWPP?
The Source Water Protection Program (SWPP) is a mandatory study on every water source in the country. It's a study of possible contaminants in the direct upstream path of where each plant receives its water.