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State lawmakers want tougher drinking water regulations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers from the Northern Panhandle have introduced legislation aimed at increasing regulations of drinking water.

Sen. William Ihlenfeld, D-Ohio, and Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, are lead sponsors of the Clean Water Act of 2020. The measure would require companies using PFAS chemicals to monitor their discharges.

Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia

The legislation would also create the West Virginia PFAS Action Response Team for developing standards on keeping water sources clean.

“These are pollutants that are relatively new, they’re man-made and invented in the last few decades,” Hansen said. “Many of them are very toxic to people, but they are not regulated at the state or federal level.”

The use of PFAS chemicals dates back tot he 1940s, and PFAS do not break down over time.

“We owe it to the people who were sickened, and to the family members of those who were killed, to properly regulate these toxic chemicals,” he said. “We’re taking a systematic approach to identify and reduce the sources of these chemicals so that we can ensure that tap water is clean.”

Officials detected PFAS in drinking water from Martinsburg’s Big Springs well, which has since been shut down. Federal agencies are now performing an exposure assessment of households impacted by PFAS in their drinking water. PFAS chemicals in this area were from firefighting foam used at the Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base.

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