House Judiciary Committee discusses water bill - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV House Judiciary Committee discusses water bill

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When it comes to the Jan. 9 water spill, "it was the perfect storm of things going wrong."

During the Feb. 13 House Judiciary Committee meeting, Senate Bill 373, which quickly became known as "the water bill," was taken up for discussion.

The proposed legislation went through the House Health and Human Resources Committee Feb. 12 and is still scheduled to go through the House Finance Committee before it can be voted on by the full House of Delegates.

The main topic during the Feb. 13 meeting regarded the above-ground storage tanks and ensuring the "zones of critical concern" are adequately regulated.

While not every above-ground storage tank is currently regulated, a byproduct of the proposed legislation would regulate any above-ground storage tank containing 1,100 gallons or more and with water sitting in the tank more than 60 days.

Currently, several exemptions apply for how, and the extent to which, the tanks are regulated, as well as the water within.

One exemption is for tanks that contain water with no additives. In the meeting, it was suggested that all above-ground storage tanks be made to register in order to know it exists. With an inventory of above-ground storage tanks, knowing what is in them all would also make their inspections easier.

If every above-ground storage tank was registered, a statewide requirement would be the probable method of dispensing the information to the public. The inventory would be limited to above-ground storage tanks, with a possible cap addressing a particular size.

Integrity testing of the construction, structure and maintenance of the tanks themselves also was suggested and breached as a possibility.

One of the main challenges voiced throughout creating legislation to address the Jan. 9 chemical spill is first understanding the "big converse of what's out there, what is covered and what isn't," as one lawmaker put it. Another challenge is avoiding legislation that puts regulations on top of existing regulation.

If the suggested measures were undertaken, about nine additional employees would be added to the staff of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection at an annual price tag of about $970,000.

The money would likely come from permit fees, capital costs and annual registration fees generated by companies with above-ground storage tanks.