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ORSANCO Re-Starts Public Hearings On Water Quality Standards

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Bill Rinehart
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The Ohio River climbed high out of its bed in February 2018.

ORSANCO board members held the first of three public hearings this week on revised water quality standards. Last year, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission considered removing standards. But under intense public pressure, the board dropped that idea and is again hearing public comment.

Executive Director Richard Harrison says the last proposal would have eliminated quality standards. He says about 17 people testified Monday in Pittsburgh. "They liked the fact that standards would potentially be maintained with this proposal. They felt like keeping the standards as they are was something they want to see."

Harrison says public input is important.

"In October a lot of folks were anticipating that this would culminate at that point. But the committee asked for more time. There were thousands of comments, approximately 6,000 comments. So the commission listened to those and in a lot of ways started over."

The next public hearings are Thursday in Evansville, Illinois, and then Monday in Erlanger, Kentucky. That gives a lot of people a chance to be heard. "The Ohio River is nearly a thousand miles long, and there are definitely differences along the river," Harrison says. "There are different priorities. As you get to the lower portions of the river, there's a lot more impact with agriculture. The land use is very different."

The board will vote on standards at a meeting in Covington in June.