MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia may sue Maryland if its leaders continue to limit West Virginia’s access to the Potomac River.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey outlined his concerns in a letter sent to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles this week.

The letter states that Maryland has no legal authority to interfere with West Virginia’s access to the Potomac River.

Berkeley County Council President Doug Copenhaver agreed, saying that more water will be necessary for businesses like the Proctor and Gamble plant being built in Martinsburg that will require 1.3 million gallons of water a day to maintain operations.

“Berkeley County’s a growing county,” Copenhaver said. “We’re in competition all the time with surrounding states in trying to attract economic development.”

Copenhaver says providing adequate water is a big part of attracting business.

“If we have another big manufacturing company come in like P&G, we’re going to need more water.”

The letter from the Attorney General cites a 1785 compact between Maryland and Virginia, which gave Virginia a sovereign right to the Potomac’s water.

The U.S. Supreme Court has suggested that West Virginia, which has a common history with Virginia, is entitled to the same rights under the 231-year-old compact.

The letter states West Virginia will file an original action with the U.S. Supreme Court if Maryland’s leadership does not agree to work with West Virginia in drafting an interstate compact for submission to the U.S. Congress in the next 21 days.

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