17 December 2008
By Geoff Hamill, Staff Writer
"If we do not know where we are going, any road will take us there."
With those words, Karen Bowers of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy urged the newly-formed county water task force to establish a purpose and objectives to achieve its purpose.
Bowers presented a draft "plan of attack" at the task force's second meeting on December 12 at McClintic Library.
The meeting was chaired by county commissioner Reta Griffith and attended by Bowers; Marlinton mayor Dennis Driscoll; Beth Little of the West Virginia Sierra Club; Tom Shipley, Slatyfork; Dave Cowan of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association and Wendy Campbell, education director with the Greenbrier Ranger District.
The attendance was lower than the first meeting, but task force members made progress reviewing owers'draft plan.
The proposed purpose for the group states: "Our purpose: to identify, monitor and manage the sources and use of water in Pocahontas County; to protect and conserve those resources; and, in doing so, to provide for the public welfare; to protect the quality of life and economic vitality of the county; and to contribute to the management and protection of State water resources."
The proposed objectives for the task force to achieve that purpose are:
The water task force plans to review, refine and finalize the draft plan in the coming months.
The task force was formed as a result of this year's passage of the state Water Resources Protection and Management Act. The state government intends to proactively investigate and address water management issues at the state and local levels.
The Act states in part, "the state shall manage the quantity of its waters effectively for present and future uses and enjoyment and for the protection of the environment."
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will take the lead for the state and plans to divide the state into four river watershed areas: the Cheat, Gauley, Elk and Greenbrier.
The DEP plans to develop management plans for the Cheat River in the first year, the Elk and Gauley in the second year and the Greenbrier in year three.
Since the Greenbrier drains most of Pocahontas County, the county commission took the initiative to form the county task force and begin working with the DEP to develop a water management plan, rather than wait for two years.
The move gives the county a head start in obtaining state assistance in developing a comprehensive water management plan for the county.
The next meeting of the county water task force is scheduled for February 4, 2009 at 3 p.m. at McClintic Library. All interested persons are encouraged to attend.