ISSUE AREA 1:The Benefits Of West Virginia's Participation In ORSANCO Outweigh Its Cost.
ORSANCO's funding situation is favorable to West Virginia for several reasons. West Virginia contributed $120,600 or 4.8% of ORSANCO's FY1999 total budget of $2,514,427. $1,383,427 or 55% of ORSANCO's funding is derived from federal and other non-state sources. Of the state portion of funding, amounting to $1,131,000, West Virginia contributes 10.7 % of the total bourne by the 8 signatory states. Since state allocations are based on the land area and population within the Ohio River watershed, the funding mechanism provides a special advantage to the State of West Virginia. A signatory state's Ohio River miles is not considered in the funding formula, and 277 of the 981 miles of the Ohio River are located within West Virginia's borders. Thus, expenses for river site activities such as monitoring water quality; fish tissue analysis; regulating pollution; and providing clean-up activities, such as ORSANCO's River Sweep shoreline clean-up project are shared by states such as New York and Virginia which have no part of the Ohio River within their borders, and Pennsylvania and Illinois which share only a small portion of the River relative to West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. In the absence of the Compact, the costs relevant to West Virginia's portion of the River would be the State's responsibility. Hence, the State receives the benefit of these river site activities, as well as the economic and recreational benefits of the River, without additional costs.
According to the Office of Water Resources (OWR), 12 ORSANCO programs are
important to federal/state/local agency efforts and would require the diversion of OWR or other
State resources if they were terminated. The OWR estimates the value of these 12 core
ORSANCO programs at $272,000. In addition, ORSANCO maintains and operates 15 Organic
Detection System sites on the entire length of the Ohio River. Five of these sites are located in
West Virginia, with one being on the Kanawha River. The annual cost to maintain and operate each
of the five sites is estimated at $15,000. Therefore, West Virginia receives an estimated $75,000 a
year in benefit from the Organic Detection System program. Hence, West Virginia receives an
estimated $347,000 in benefit for the above mentioned 12 programs and the Organic Detection
System program alone. When compared to the State's ORSANCO funding of $120,600, it is easy
to justify the continuation of West Virginia's membership in the Compact. The Legislature should
consider continuing West Virginia's membership in ORSANCO for the maximum of six years
under the Sunset Law.
ISSUE AREA 2:The WV Code Contains Incomplete Information Concerning
West Virginia Code §22C-12-1 contains the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Compact. This section identifies the various states that participated in the original negotiation of the Compact. Since that time, Tennessee failed to ratify and Virginia opted to participate in the Compact. Current statute may be easily misunderstood to erroneously include Tennessee and exclude Virginia. The Legislature should consider adding language to the Article to make this matter clear.
ISSUE AREA 3:West Virginia Has A Vacancy In Its Delegation Of Three
Commissioners To ORSANCO.
According to article four of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Compact, ORSANCO should consist of three Commissioners from each of the eight signatory states. Since the resignation of a West Virginia Commissioner on May 12, 1998, West Virginia has had only two Commissioners. This has effectively taken one vote away from the State of West Virginia until another Commissioner is appointed. Statute requires vacancies to be filled by appointment by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for the unexpired term. The Governor should make an appointment to the vacant position as soon as possible.