The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on West Virginia counties that receive poor marks for public water systems safety violations:

According to a report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately two-thirds of West Virginia counties receive poor marks for public water systems safety violations, and approximately three-quarters of them are slow to get those issues fixed.

It is difficult to understand exactly what the language used in the survey means. Two graphics accompanying the report are simply counties in different shades of the same color with an arrow going from lightest to darkest beside the words “increasing health-based drinking water violations,” and “increasing time in violation.” The Natural Resources Defense Council’s explanation of those numberless graphics is “Two-thirds of West Virginia counties rank in the bottom third for their number of tap-water safety violations; even more are in the bottom third for the time it takes to fix these issues.”

Make of that what you will, but the report’s authors assure us we are among the “worst in the nation.” They say 912,650 people in the Mountain State have drinking water that is out of compliance with the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act.

Here is the crux of the problem, according to the report: Top offenders are small, mainly rural community water systems; including those meant to serve communities of color and those meant to serve those in low socio-economic conditions.

With the exception of a few larger municipal systems, nearly every water system in the state meets that description. The problem can be boiled down to two words: rural and poor.

This is nothing new for West Virginians. Much about our communities that does not meet national quality of life standards is because of where we live and the condition of our economy. In this case we are guessing not a single administrator of a water system in our state would hesitate to provide the best drinking water possible to paying customers, if they had access to the resources (mostly money) to do so.

But the part about paying customers should be another asterisk on this report. As recently as last week, Mid-Ohio Valley residents learned there are folks in Belleville — 175 customers along 22 miles of new line — who have decided despite signing on to an agreement to do so, they do not want to pay for water from the Lubeck Public Service District.

When Lubeck PSD (one of the few water districts in our region for which DuPont PAID to have carbon filters installed for the capture of C-8, mind you) borrowed the money from the Bureau of Public Health to build this new line, they believed all potential customers who signed the agreement would eventually be paying water bills to cover the costs.

Now, “We’re not generating enough revenue,” said Rocky McConnell, general manager of Lubeck PSD. Truly, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

Of course, all West Virginians should have access to clean drinking water. MOST water district administrators do their best to provide that, with the meager resources at hand. Should the organizations writing this kind of nonsense like to stop telling us what we already know and instead use the money they spend on surveys and reports to begin providing grants for the upgrade of some of our water districts, we would welcome the help.

The crushing defeat the NCAA deserved

The San Francisco Chronicle on a new California law allowing college athletes to collect pay:

The NCAA should check the scoreboard. Despite all its bluster about kicking California’s universities out of national competition, it lost big last week when the governor signed state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s bill to allow compensation of college athletes.

And while one might not know it from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s self-aggrandizing bill signing during a taping of LeBron James’ HBO show Friday (Sept. 27) — which became public when it was posted Monday on Twitter — the NCAA was crushed in the California Legislature even before the Berkeley Democrat’s legislation landed on the desk of the man the Lakers star called “Governor Gav.” The bill, which permits college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images or likenesses in direct contradiction of NCAA rules, passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and without a single vote against it.

The association can’t easily ignore the sheer size and economic impact of California and its universities. Moreover, legislators in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and other states have proposed similar measures.

That means it’s time for the NCAA and the universities that joined it in opposing Skinner’s bill — including Stanford, USC and the UC and CSU systems — to stop playing defense for an indefensible position.

College sports is an industry — one that made more than $14 billion last year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, a figure that has more than tripled over the past 15 years. And yet the big-time schools spend more on coaches alone than they do on their student-athletes, of which there are 10 times as many. That’s even if one credits the colleges’ own suspect valuations of their tuition and other costs, which is all they grant the young people who provide most of the labor and take most of the risks that generate those billions. It’s no wonder the most powerful advocacy against this system has come from the athletes themselves.

California’s new law doesn’t take effect until 2023. That gives the NCAA plenty of time to develop national rules that share the revenue equitably with its workforce.

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