Citizens Actively Protecting the Environment (CAPE) connect the people with their government. Tonight, Friday, January 31, 2014 community leaders and new activists will gather at United Universalist Congregation for Citizen Lobbying Training. Join us at 520 Kanawha Blvd from 6-8pm to learn how to lobby your interests like a professional… all for FREE! Visit this Facebook event page to stay updated.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the improvements needed for Senate Bill 373 so that it will work for the people of West Virginia. Citizens can gather in the House Chambers for the meeting by 5:30pm to testify on the merits of amending of the Water Resources Protection Act. Talking points will be provided outside the Chambers at 5:00pm.
What: Public Hearing on SB 373 related to water resources protection
When: Monday, February 3rd, 5:30pm
Where: House Chambers, State Capitol Building
Why: For legislators to hear citizen input
Angie Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition states “Typically, people are asked to sign up to speak as in support or in opposition of the bill that is the subject of the hearing. I’m thinking we want to have people sign up in support of 373 but give some talking points of how 373 needs improved, and additional actions needed. See below suggestions for internal discussion and feedback. I’d say we need to get the announcement of the public hearing and message points out to all networks ASAP.
Needed improvements to SB 373:
· Carefully analyze AST exclusions and address loopholes. (ANYONE HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT THIS?)
· Require individual permits and regular inspections for all significant contaminant sources within zones of critical concern for public drinking water systems.
· Require and fund development of source water protection plans that address all significant contamination threats and include full stakeholder and community involvement.
Additional actions needed:
· Implementation of Chemical Safety Board Recommendations
· Continuation of bottled water distribution to all affected communities
· An environmentally sound and safe mechanism to flush the chemical from the water treatment plant, distribution lines, sewage systems, residences etc.
· Immediate institution of a medical surveillance program
· Immediate studies on the short and long term effects of MCHM and its breakdown chemicals on human health
Citizen messaging framework:
· We deserve thorough protection from all of the threats to our water supplies
· The government is failing us and needs to do a better job in regulating and enforcing protections
· We deserve to have all available government resources applied to understand and responsibly advise the public on risks and solutions to this health crisis
The Public Service Commission is responsible for protecting the public interest by regulating the prices charged by public utilities, the practices of those utilities, and the quality of utility services. Note that a rate increase for West Virginia American Water went into effect October 11, 2013, which may explain why your bill has increased in recent months.
You may file complaints with the PSC about poor tap water quality, poor customer service by West Virginia American Water during the water crisis, and/or charges on your utility bill that you believe are incorrect or unauthorized. If you need immediate relief (such as assistance with a leak, flushing your pipes, etc.), you should contact the utility company before contacting the PSC.
For additional recommendations regarding flushing, see www.ourwaterwv.org/how-to-flush
To file an informal complaint with the PSC, follow these three simple steps:
1) Call the PSC’s toll-free complaint line (1-800-642-8544) or file an informal complaint online here: http://www.psc.state.wv.us/Scripts/Util_Informal_Request/Efile_Informal_Request.cfm
2) Specify that you are filing an informal complaint under West Virginia State Rule 150-1-6, and that the utility must respond to the PSC within ten days of the PSC's contacting them about your complaint.
3) Provide the receptionist with the following information:
a. Your name, mailing & physical addresses, city, county, zip code, telephone number, & email address (if you want them to use it)
b. Your utility account number (available on your latest water bill or online)
c. The facts of your complaint (if you have spoken with the utility company, you should include the name of the utility and company personnel you have talked with, & the action they took on your complaint, if any)
d. A brief explanation of the solution that you want from WV Am. Water
e. Be sure to indicate whether you or your household are low-income, and also indicate if you or a member of your household are 65 years of age or older.
f. It is also recommended that you specifically request that the PSC open a general investigation into West Virginia American Water’s billing practices during the water crisis, their emergency preparedness, and their failure to provide accurate information to their customers about the health impacts of the water for which they are charging their customers.Even though you may be very angry, please be courteous with the person at the PSC.