The Potomac River Basin covers 14,555 square miles (see Appendix 2). The
basin drains 3,390 square miles of West Virginia, 5,706 square miles of Virginia, 3,820
square miles of Maryland, 1,570 square miles of Pennsylvania and 69 square miles of
Washington D.C. (See Table 1).
|MEMBER||AREA (sq. mi.)||% OF BASIN|
The Commission summarizes and distributes technical and other relative data, conducts studies, sponsors research and prepares reports on pollution and other water problems of the conservancy district. It cooperates with the legislative and administrative agencies of the signatory bodies and with other commissions and federal, local governmental and nongovernmental agencies, organizations, groups and persons for the purpose of promoting uniform laws, rules or regulations for the abatement and control of pollution of streams and the utilization, and conservation of the water and associated land resources in the conservancy district. The Commission disseminates information to the public on stream pollution problems.
The agency cooperates with public and private organizations concerned with
water problems in the formulation of programs and other activities relating to stream
conservation. It recommends to the signatory bodies, reasonable minimum standards
for the treatment of sewage and industrial or other wastes now discharged or to be
discharged in the future to the streams of the conservancy district, and also, for
cleanliness of the various streams in the conservancy district.
Referral of Complaints
The Commission refers complaints that it receives regarding illegal polluting
of the Potomac River Basin to the appropriate state agencies that are responsible for
enforcing environmental protection laws. In West Virginia, that agency is the
Division of Environmental Protection.
ISSUE AREA 1: THE BENEFITS OF WEST VIRGINIA'S MEMBERSHIP IN THE
INTERSTATE COMMISSION ON THE POTOMAC RIVER
BASIN OUTWEIGH ITS FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION.
The state's contribution is based on such factors as population; the amount of industrial and domestic pollution; and a flat service charge. Currently, West Virginia has the second lowest contribution of the five signatories (see Table 2).
|DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA||46,276||47,919||49,498|
|Toxic Spill Model||1985-1986||$20,000|
|Eastern Panhandle Ground Water Data Base||1986-1988||26,622|
|State Water Quality Assistance||1986-1997||50,000|
|South Branch Flood Study||1988-1995||773,851|
|North Branch Restoration Project||1989-1997||264,114|
|North Branch Erosion and Sedimentation Study||1991||3,619|
|Kanawha River Drought Study||1992||17,645|
|Potomac River Visions Project||1993-1997||248,941|
|Potomac River Living Resources Monitoring Program||1993-1997||156,289|
|Exotic Species in the Potomac River Watershed||1993-1997||3,148|
|Planning and Agency Support||1993-1997||123,082|
|Summary of the 1994 State Water Quality Assessments for the Potomac River Basin||1995-1996||70,250|
|Nutrient Reduction for Poultry Litter Use on Agricultural Lands||1994-1996||39,500|
|South Branch Watershed Study||1996-1997||3,858|
|Keyser Flood Study||1996-1997||2,000|
|Mid-Atlantic Highlands Potomac River Assessment Partnership||1997||49,456|
|Analysis of Stream and River Biological Indicators||1997||47,640|
It can be seen that with the second lowest contribution among all the commission signatories, West Virginia has received benefits far exceeding its financial contribution. West Virginia has received over $1.9 million in project benefits from the Commission since 1985. Meanwhile, West Virginia's contributions to the Commission over the same period of time totaled to only $373,322 (See Table 3). This is a ratio of more than five to one or for every dollar the state contributed to the Commission.
A cross section of some of the projects that benefitted the state are as follows:
South Branch Flood Study, 1988-1995. The Commission worked with Grant and Hardy counties and the Corps of Engineers in identifying methods for protecting the cities of Petersburg and Moorefield from future floods after the enormous damage caused by the Flood of November 1985. As local sponsor for the Corps of Engineers flood protection feasibility studies for Petersburg and Moorefield, the Commission carried out several of the study tasks as in-kind contribution, coordinated some of the project financing, and coordinated some of the liaison requirements. Cost: $773,851.
The North Branch Restoration Project, 1989-1997. Directed the North Branch Task Force which developed a resource plan; enacted the Jennings Randolph Lake Project Compact from natural resource laws and regulations on the lake project; worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on their Reconnaissance and Feasibility Studies for correcting the major source of mine drainage; and developed recreational use goals for Jennings Randolph Lake. Cost: $264,114.
Nutrient Reduction for Poultry Litter Use on Agricultural Lands, 1994-1996. Following a Commission meeting held in West Virginia which included lengthy discussion of water quality problems in the South Branch, staff members met with the Potomac Inter-Agency Water Quality Office in Moorefield. Commission staff demonstrated the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate, a field-scale computer model, to simulate several nutrient management scenarios and estimate the nitrogen and phosphorous losses for different soils and fertilizer schedules. Cost: $39,500.
Eastern Panhandle Ground Water Data Base, 1986-1988. The Commission coordinated the development of a computerized data base of ground water related information at the county health departments. Cost: $26,622.
Kanawha River Drought Study, 1992. As part of its work on the National Drought Study, the Commission assisted on the Kanawha River Drought Study centered in Huntington. The Commission provided assistance with computer specification and purchase, software implementation, computer model development, and project liaison. Cost: $17,645.
Keyser Flood Study, 1996-1997. Commission staff assisted Keyser in analyzing flood problems, developing request for state grant and organizing a local watershed organization. Cost: $2,000.
West Virginia should continue its membership in the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.
ISSUE 2: CONGRESSIONAL APPROPRIATION TO THE COMMISSION WAS CUT FOR FY 1997.
The Commission has received a Congressional Appropriation of $511,000 for the last two years. However, due to congressional budget cuts, this appropriation was not made for the fiscal year 1997 budget. This cut would reduce the Commission's budget by approximately 25%. The Commission is currently attempting to have this appropriation reinstated for fiscal year 1998; the Commission will not know if this appropriation will be restored until the Federal Budget is passed later this year.
If the Commission does lose this funding permanently, it will face
decisions about how to handle a 25% budget cut. Projects will either be reduced
in scope or eliminated completely. This means that benefits received by the
state through these projects could be less than previous years.
Another possible effect of this reduction in funds from one source may be an increase in funding from signatories' annual contributions. West Virginia's annual contribution could go up but so would the annual contributions of all the signatories. If the annual contributions are increased, they will reflect the proportions that are established by the funding formula that is currently in use. For fiscal year 1998, the West Virginia Legislature appropriated $41,064, a slight increase of $1,389 from $39,675 in FY 1997.
An alternative response to the budget cut would be to follow the
signatories of Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia by
appropriating project grants to the Commission. The Commission then
coordinates the projects with the broader purpose of the entire Potomac River
Basin. This would continue the benefits received from such projects.
The West Virginia representation to the Commission should monitor the budget situation and report its impact to the Joint Committee on Government Operations by December 31, 1997.