CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Environmental Protection is considering the possibility of elevating the status of the Kanawha River to a potential source of drinking water. However, the process to reach the designation will not be a quick one.
The idea of making the second of the Kanawha in the Charleston area a possible water source came after the Elk River was contaminated in January. It was suddenly realized the region was void of any backup water supply for 300,000 West Virginia residents.
Kevin Coyne, who runs the Water Standard’s Program for the Department of Environmental Protection, said they are in the first steps which include writing rules, gaining public input, and putting the measure before the legislature. The process alone will not be complete until possibly January 2016. Coyne says then they could entertain the idea of a intake.
“If somebody wanted to put an intake on the Kanawha on the section we’re proposing, they’d have to do an analysis on their own and possibly some more treatment,” he said. “We’re still very far away from something like that happening.”
The process would also involve a change in status and could potentially impact pollution and water discharge permits for companies with facilities along the river.
“It will add some new parameters or some new limits that a lot of facilities already have,” said Coyne. “That’s another thing we’d be doing is working with companies to see what levels they are at now and what potentially we would add to it.”
Coyne said an analysis of the available data finds most of the discharges already meet the parameters, but there would be extensive studying on other parameters which are not currently monitored.
“We end up having routine monitoring we do every year in a rotation,” he said. “But it would take a couple of years.”