Jan. 28, 2014: Water crisis; Smoking in W.Va.
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.
Where is the West Virginia American Water SWPP? Environmental activists have been asking for it since they arrived in the area and the state has not provided it.
The questions are:
• If they knew of Freedom Industries, which should have been covered in the SWPP, why weren't there inspections by state officials?
• Why wasn't there testing for pH value and electrical activity changes for this chemical at the water plant intake?
CharlestonWater customers need credit for filters
With the recent water issue, many homeowners, businesses, and schools will have to replace their refrigerator and/or ice machine water filters. Of course this is very low on the list of immediate concerns.
However, many filters run in the range of $50, which places an additional burden on West Virginia American Water customers. I called the water company and asked if they had a plan in place to compensate people who had to replace their water filters, and the customer service representative told me that they will not offer compensation for replaced water filters.
I do realize that there is a 1,000 gallon credit to each customer's account, which works out to about $12.50. This credit does not come near the cost of a filter, much less multiple filters that would need to be replaced in businesses and schools. WV American Water could do their customers a great service through giving a credit for the average cost of a water filter.
Paul E. McClanahan
Government should reassess monopolies
Our current water crisis is a good example of what can happen when government grants monopolies. Be it water, electricity, TV cable, or telephones, competition holds prices down.
I think government should reassess its position about monopolies and open all markets to competition. If that were the case, not nearly as many people would be affected by the failure of one company, nor would they have to pay such outrageous prices for things like cable.