(By Senators Unger, McCabe, Prezioso, Rowe, Hunter, Caldwell, Kessler, Fanning, Bailey, Weeks, Harrison, Edgell, White, Minard, Sharpe, Ross, Facemyer, Smith, Sprouse, Boley, Tomblin, Mr. President, and Guills)

[Originating in the Committee on Natural Resources; reported February 24, 2003.]

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study a state water plan for protection of the state's water supply.

Whereas, Water is a vital economic resource of equal or greater importance than any other mineral or natural resource; and
Whereas, The state has a compelling interest in assuring that the consumptive uses of its water resources are managed in a manner that both protects the state's natural resources and assures an adequate water supply for agricultural, domestic, commercial and industrial purposes; and
Whereas, Competition over water resources and allocations among the states is a long-standing and growing issue both regionally and nationally; and
Whereas, Water resources must be managed to meet the water needs of people while maintaining, protecting and improving the state's natural systems; and
Whereas, This state contains the headwaters of several major river systems and downstream metropolitan regions in other states increasingly rely upon waters originating in this state for their water supply, thereby increasing the potential for interstate water use conflicts between this state and downstream states and other public and private entities; and
Whereas, There are concerns about intrastate water use between competing consumptive users withdrawing from the same watercourses and the effects of such consumptive uses on the conservation of those watercourses; and
Whereas, The role of the state should be to ensure water resources are adequately managed and protected and to develop a water policy and comprehensive state water plan that establishes guidelines and a framework for the development of regional water supply plans which should integrate water supply, water quality, water use and environmental issues and should be used to guide decisions that affect water resources in the state. Further, the state water plan should help integrate and coordinate the water planning and management of local, state and federal agencies; and
Whereas, The management and control of our substantial water resources are integral to West Virginia's success in a variety of economic arenas, including, but not limited to, energy production, agriculture and tourism; and
Whereas, West Virginia is in an unique position geographically and demographically with regard to recreational water uses and can take steps to further enhance this ecotourism image; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Legislature hereby requests the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study a state water plan for protection of the state's water supply; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance establish a joint water policy commission, in coordination with a water policy technical advisory task force, that will create a comprehensive state water plan
for the protection of the quantity and quality of the state's water resources, including, but not limited to:
1. Water supply allocation and interbasin transfers;
2. Natural systems and in-stream flow protection;
3. Agricultural use, development and efficiency;
4. Local government water use, development and assistance with water and wastewater systems;
5. Water conservation, reuse and drought;
6. Water rights management;
7. Water-based recreation;
8. Data collection, management and research in water information;
9. Interstate water issues, including diversion and exportation;
10. Water storage, aquifer storage and recovery;
11. Watershed planning and management;
12. Reservoir operations;
13. Water marketing and transfers;
14. Problem mediation and arbitration;
15. Other general issues relating to consumptive and nonconsumptive water uses; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the joint water policy commission be dedicated to comprehensively address West Virginia water policy and law by implementing, in cooperation with the water policy technical advisory task force, the state water plan. The commission shall consist of six members each from the House of Delegates and the Senate, including the chairs of the Judiciary, Finance and Natural Resources committees, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the President of the Senate, with the cochairs appointed from the three appointees who do not chair the standing committees; and, be it
Further Resolved, That a water policy technical advisory task force be established by the joint water policy commission for the purposes of providing technical information, feedback and assistance implementing the state water plan; that the task force meet twice a month and report monthly to the joint water policy commission during interim meetings; and that the advisory task force be comprised of members of relevant governmental agencies, including, but not limited to, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Agriculture and the Public Service Commission Consumer Advocate Division, together with representatives of business, industry and the public, including, but not limited to, representatives of water and wastewater utilities, agriculture interests, environmental interests, recreational and other public interests; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2004, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.