CQ Roll Call 50 State Report: Water Ranked Fifth in West Virginia's Most Pressing Legislative Issues in 2015
Water, sewer, and power systems were ranked in the top five issues that got the most attention in the West Virginia legislature this year. Antiquated water infrastructure in many parts of the state resulted in service disruptions and higher rates as water utilities attempted to upgrade aging systems. In recent months, the Charleston area, for example, lost water service repeatedly due to broken water mains, and businesses, schools, and government offices around the state have been forced to close as a result of infrastructure failures. A recent AP story highlighted one Charleston manufacturing business that loses between $5,000 and $15,000 a day every time water is shut off because of a water main break, and by one estimate the state needs more than $1 billion in drinking water infrastructure improvements, such as the replacement of crumbling pipes. The AP story points out that as crumbling drinking water infrastructure causes increasingly frequent water main breaks and boil water advisories, some West Virginians are now pushing for a public takeover of the region’s water system. We have written about the 2014 Elk River chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 West Virginia residents for days. That incident heightened residents’ awareness of the state’s significant water problems, raising the profile of water infrastructure problems among the state’s most pressing issues in 2015.
West Virginia Awarded $131k for Water Infrastructure
Sept. 15, 2015
The Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health today awarded West Virginia $131,000 to improve water infrastructure in the sate. TheWest Virginia State Department of Health and Human Resources will use the money to reduce exposures leading to drinking water contamination, among other things.The grant announced Tuesday will fund the project for one year.
Manchin and Rockefeller Announce $600,000 for Critical Water Infrastructure Project
Oct 2, 2014
Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller today announced that a total of $600,000 has been awarded to the Gilmer County Public Service District (PSD) for the Route 5 and Hattie Road Water System Extension Project. By installing 20,800 feet of new waterline to the existing system along West Virginia Route 5 and Hattie Road, the project aims to provide 23 new households in Calhoun and Gilmer Counties with a safe and reliable new water supply. The new waterline will also provide water service to the Calhoun-Gilmer Technical Career Center.
“Having access to safe and reliable water is critical to the wellbeing of our residents and the prosperity of our businesses, schools and economy,” Senator Manchin said. “By extending the water line system in Calhoun and Gilmer Counties, this project will help enhance the quality of life in the community, guarantee improved water service to West Virginia families and promote success and development at the Calhoun-Gilmer Technical Career Center.”
“This project is great news for Calhoun and Gilmer County – not only will this funding improve the well-being of residents, it will also stimulate the local economy,” said Rockefeller. “Clean water is a vital to the health and safety of our communities and installing new water line will go a long way in making sure West Virginians get the clean water they deserve.”
The $600,000 in funding includes a $390,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Council (ARC), $160,000 in funds from West Virginia Infrastructure Jobs Development Council and $50,000 in local funds.
Rahall Announces USDA Project Funding for Lincoln County Water Infrastructure
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 16:24 From Press Release
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Tuesday announced $1.1 million in USDA Rural Development funding to extend clean water services in Lincoln County.
“This funding, in addition to previous funding that I have supported and announced for the Lower Mud River Project, will help ensure that Lincoln County households have safe and reliable drinking water when families turn on the faucet. I have waged many budget battles in Washington to ensure that Federal funding is available to southern West Virginia communities in order to build and strengthen our water and sewer systems, and I will never let up in that fight,” said Rahall.
This USDA Rural Development grant announced by Rahall completes a multi-million dollar financial package for the Lincoln County project. That package of funding includes monies from the Army Corp of Engineers Section 340 Southern West Virginia Infrastructure Program, which Rahall helped to create in 1992, to provide residents across southern West Virginia with modern water and wastewater systems.
The Project will serve an additional 81 families in the Lower Mud River area.
Rahall Praises Passage of Water Bill
May 20, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) announced that the House has passed the Conference Report for H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve the nation’s water infrastructure, such as dams, locks, navigation channels and inland waterways. The bill was introduced by Rahall, who is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that negotiated the final measure, along with Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).
The Conference Report represents the bipartisan, bicameral agreement between House and Senate conferees responsible for negotiating a final measure between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill. After passing today in the House by a vote of 412-4, it is expected to be voted on later this week in the Senate before going to the President for his signature.
“This bipartisan jobs bill will revitalize our inland waterway system so that bulk commodities such as West Virginia coal can be transported more efficiently,” said Rahall. “Critically, this bill expands the Buy America requirements, ensuring that more of our nation’s infrastructure is made in America by Americans. This provision in particular further defines this legislation as being about jobs—jobs to construct flood control projects, jobs to expand our harbors, jobs to make improvements to our waterways—and American jobs in the production of the iron and steel which goes into these works.”
As the nation’s leading coal exporter, West Virginia relies heavily on water infrastructure to reach foreign buyers. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. waterways and ports directly support 9,890 jobs in the Mountain State and contribute $1.6 billion to West Virginia’s economy. Commodities travel to and from West Virginia on many vital transportation links, such as the Ohio River, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, and the Mississippi River. The Port of Huntington Tri-State alone moves 45 million tons of coal annually and supports more than 12,000 jobs.
“This legislation is a reminder, and unfortunately a stark reminder, that when given a chance working together in a bipartisan fashion can produce solid results for the American people,” said Rahall.
In a letter to Congress in support of passing WRRDA, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman stressed the bill’s importance to the shipment of American products.
“Given their ability to move large amounts of cargo, the nation's inland waterways are a strategic, economic and military resource. Forty-one states, including all states east of the Mississippi River and 16 state capitols, are served by commercially navigable waterways. Over 60 percent of America’s grain exports and many other important commodities such as fuel, coal and agricultural inputs also move through our inland waterway system,” wrote Stallman.