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Policymaker Guide

The waters of West Virginia are essential to the State’s economy. From the water we drink, to the rivers where we play, to businesses and industries that provide our income, clean water is an essential element for West Virginia’s future economic success.

West Virginia’s water resources are also precious to the nation. The headwaters of the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, which eventually reach 9% of the U.S. population, include waters that originate in West Virginia. These resources provide for quality of life, community development and resiliency, and economic opportunity.


Based on this work, the WVU faculty and staff who developed this policymaker guide propose that West Virginia national, state, and local policymakers take actions that support the following principles:

  • W ake up to the full potential and challenges of West Virginia’s abundant waters to support its people, business, industry, and job creation opportunities.

  • A dvance West Virginia’s water-related infrastructure so it is better prepared for ever-increasing extreme precipitation events to reduce flooding, which threatens human and economic health.

  • T ogether, West Virginians will work to provide access to clean and affordable water to protect and enhance public health.

  • E ngage West Virginia communities to coordinate efforts to enhance the potential of water resources--which flow across political boundaries-- to provide prosperity and well-being to all.

  • R evitalize West Virginia’s water resources, and increase the state’s resilience to meet the societal and economic needs of today’s West Virginians and their future generations.

  • S howcase West Virginia’s natural water resources by marketing their beauty and developing river-related recreation opportunities that increase tourism and recruit new businesses and residents.


Our top recommendations for each of these principles detailing why each action is important for West Virginia.

Full Guide: Full Resolution (20.7MB PDF) Full Guide: Lower Resolution (10.6MB PDF) Executive Summary (PDF)