House Judiciary Committee votes in favor of reclassifying Kanawha River

The House Judiciary Committee voted today in favor of reclassifying the Kanawha River (from just above Belle downstream through Charleston to the Ohio River) as “Category A.” Reclassifying this stretch of the Kanawha would allow for the possibility of using it as a secondary water supply for Charleston and surrounding counties.

Based on previous experience, we had expected an amendment to be proposed that would weaken water quality standards, by eliminating Category A protections statewide. No such amendment was even offered. (Perhaps the explosion of an oil train into the Kanawha River earlier this week made it a bad week for offering amendments to weaken statewide water quality standards).

WV American Water president Jeff McIntyre stated that adding a second intake in the Charleston area – which would only be possible if that stretch of the Kanawha River is reclassified – would cost approximately $50 million. Adding an intake further upstream (above Belle) would cost $150 million. Alternatively, an independent assessment estimated that building a reservoir along the Elk would cost approximately $25 to $35 million.

The bill now passes to the House floor for a vote and then (if it passes) over to the Senate. We will keep you posted on future developments.

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