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EPA to Curb Water Pollution Tied to West Virginia Coal Mines



April 2, 2024 - EPA has agreed to set pollution limits for 11 impaired West Virginia waterways, in a victory for environmental groups who say the state has failed to stop contamination from coal mines.

The agency will establish a pollution “diet” for ionic toxicity in rivers and streams in the Lower Guyandotte River Watershed, which could help save aquatic life and result in stricter permits for mining companies.

Ionic toxicity occurs when large amounts of dissolved solids and minerals enter a body of water, causing the water quality to deteriorate and increasing salinity. When waterways fall below federal standards and are designated by EPA as impaired, state agencies must set total maximum daily loads, or caps, for the sources of the excess pollutants.

Yet West Virginia failed to set those limits for ionic toxicity tied to surface coal mining and mountaintop removal projects, environmental groups say. Under the proposed agreement announced Friday, EPA will step in and release draft maximum daily loads by Oct. 31 of this year and set the caps by January of next year.