This is West Virginia
It is no surprise that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has disregarded the arguments against Freeman Companies’ proposed Sir Johns Run wastewater discharge and issued a permit without changes.
After all, a small high-quality stream forever tainted with sewage effluent must be of laughable concern to an agency that routinely allows hundreds of miles of headwater streams to be totally destroyed so mountaintops can be removed and coal can be mined at greater profit.
This is West Virginia, where water laws are lobbied into the code by polluting industries, passed by politicians beholden to polluters and deferentially enforced by a court system owned by polluters. This is our state, where despite the emerging world view of the critical importance of clean water, water laws continue to be weakened to favor industry.
This is West Virginia where the classification of streams has been rewritten so that over 90% of the state’s streams are exempted from prudent pollution standards by the routine demonstration of profit associated with the pollution.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this permit is the way it increases historic levels of nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus) ending up in the already overstressed Chesapeake Bay.
In 2003, Coolfont Recreation obtained a new permit to increase its discharge into Sir Johns Run which, in effect, allowed them to discharge up to 3,068 pounds per year of nitrogen nutrients. This permit greatly exceeded the needed capacity of the resort. For example, in 2002 at the height of the resorts occupancy, records show that the treatment plant only discharged between 10% and 27% of the 2003 permitted capacity. That amounted to a maximum of 829 pounds of nitrogen pollution and was probably an all-time high for the resort.
Although the Department of Environmental Protection was fully aware of the historical record and its implications, the new Freeman permit is based on offsets calculated from the 2003 maximum permitted discharge of 3,068 pounds of nitrogen pollution per year.
That’s over a ton of totally new nutrient pollution, without legitimate offsets, that Freeman will be allowed to discharge into Sir Johns Run and the Chesapeake Bay watershed each year.
But what can you expect? This is West Virginia where we are “Open for Business,” no matter what it costs downstream.