By BRYAN CLARK
CHARLESTON – Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Unger today introduced a resolution that would amend the state constitution to declare water resources a publicly held good, if approved in a voter referendum on the 2014 ballot.
The amendment reads: “The waters of the State of West Virginia are hereby claimed as valuable public natural resources held by the state for the use and benefit of its citizens, consistent with and preserving riparian rights.”
The amendment would be placed as Article 9 in Section II of the state constitution.
The bill has 26 co-sponsors, six of whom are Republicans.
In a press release, Unger said the amendment’s intent is to make permanent a bill passed 10 years ago that made water a public good.
“Ten years ago the Legislature passed the State Water Resources Protection and Management Act that legally made the waters of West Virginia the people’s property,” says Unger. “This Joint Resolution I’m introducing today will allow West Virginians to amend the state constitution to ensure that West Virginia’s water resources will remain forever owned by the people of this great state, and that no future Legislatures can arbitrarily change the law.”
The resolution will first head to the Senate Judiciary Committee and then to the Senate Finance Committee. It will then face a vote on the Senate floor where it is likely to pass by a wide margin, given that it is sponsored by all but eight members of the body. It will then move on to the House of Delegates.