Drinking Water

For many people, turning on the tap or flushing the toilet is something we take for granted. But a report released Monday, called "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States," shows that more than 2 million Americans live without these conveniences and that Native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group.

Wikimedia Commons

Tap water delivered by more than 2,000 water systems across the Ohio Valley contain pollutants, many harmful to human health, even though they mostly meet federal drinking water standards. That’s according to a newly-updated database released by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. 

 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After the 2014 Elk River chemical spill in the Kanawha Valley, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition created the Safe Water WV initiative. The idea is simple: to strengthen a community’s connection to their drinking water and encourage them to work together to better protect it.

A couple years ago, Jefferson and Berkeley Counties decided to build off that initiative in a unique way – using the conservation of farmland and Civil War battlefields as a model for drinking water protection.

Water
Jasonanaggie / Wikimedia Commons

The City of Martinsburg has sued the federal government over alleged chemical contamination of a drinking water plant.

Martinsburg attorney Kin Sayre filed the claim this month, requesting the Air National Guard pay for damages caused by high levels of two chemicals that the city said seeped into the water supply at the Big Springs water filtration plant in Martinsburg in 2016.

Wikimedia Commons

A raft of garbage covers a swath of the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia, a dozen miles upstream from the drinking water intake for 100,000 people.

Old tires, damaged toys, algae, oil drums, sticks and other refuse have crowded against the dam for so long that weeds sprout from them. Stuck against the spillway, the trash spans a football field's length from one bank to the other and spreads almost 30 yards upstream.

Water
Jasonanaggie / Wikimedia Commons

Water service has been turned off for more than 1,000 homes as the Huntington Sanitary Board has sent thousands of shut-off requests to West Virginia American Water as it pursues customers more than 30 days late on paying their sewer bill.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House voted on a bill Wednesday that aligns West Virginia's standards for some discharges into the state’s waters with federal limits. Opponents say the bill could put West Virginia’s drinking water supply at risk, but supporters maintain it has the potential to attract new industry to the state.

Elk River
Malepheasant / wikimedia Commons

Monday marks the third anniversary of the Elk River chemical spill that left more than 300,000 West Virginians without usable drinking water for more than a week.  The leak  originated at Freedom Industries just outside of Charleston.

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

Since July 1, the state Bureau for Public Health has been holding public hearings across West Virginia to discuss proposed Source Water Protection Plans.

The plans are the result of legislation approved after a 2014 chemical spill in Charleston left hundreds of thousands of people without usable drinking water for days.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Source water protection plans are mandates water utilities are required to follow to keep drinking water safe. However, before 2014, following these plans in West Virginia was voluntary. Since the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill, though, legislation was put in place requiring about 125 water systems in the state to have these plans. The law also made what was already on the books much stronger.

Friday, July 1 is the deadline for water and sewer utilities to submit their new plans to the state Bureau for Public Health. Liz McCormick has been following this story and brings us a look into how two utilities – large and small – have been dealing with the new regulatory landscape.

A company has agreed to pay for the installation of carbon filters in Vienna's water treatment plant.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp says the installation paid for by Wilmington, Delaware-based Chemours Co. will begin immediately.

Recently, The Center for Investigative Reporting's 'Reveal' released an episode called 'Do Not Drink: The Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan.' The producers of the show then wondered about water crises elsewhere and how communities reacted. The January 2014 Elk River chemical spill came to mind and they asked me to contribute some insight into the event and what's happened since.

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Jurors are deliberating in the federal case of an Ohio woman who says she got cancer after drinking water contaminated by a chemical from a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia.

It's one of two test cases that could influence thousands of similar lawsuits about the chemical giant's discharging of C8 into the Ohio River and drinking water.

photo by Cecelia Mason

Appalachia is no stranger to industrial or environmental disasters that affect our water. Because of crumbling water infrastructure in many coalfield communities, folks often turn to bottled water for regular use.

But not all bottled water is equal. At least that’s according to judges at the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting & Competition, which took place February 19-22. The competition judges the taste of bottled water, purified water, and municipal city waters from across the world were judged.

In this piece from The Atlantic, Anya Groner uses January's chemical spill of MCHM into the Elk River to set the stage to discuss the history and future of issues surrounding safe drinking water.

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Dozens of West Virginia residents have filed lawsuits against chemical company DuPont for contaminating drinking water.

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

A West Virginia man has filed suit against chemical company DuPont for contaminating his home's drinking water.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

There’s a 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha River that runs from the small town of Diamond, near Belle in southern Kanawha County, all the way to Point Pleasant where it flows into the Ohio River. Since 1980, this section—known as Zone 1 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection—has been exempt from being classified as Category A. That exemption prevents that section of the Kanawha River from being used as a source for drinking water. 

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

Proposals to fund drinking water projects in four West Virginia counties have been rejected by federal regulators.
 

Freedom Industries
AP

In a letter to Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, federal health officials say they thought their drinking water standard established after the Elk River chemical spill would have protected West Virginias from other forms of contact. 

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says drinking the contaminated water was the primary exposure they were concerned with when forming their safety threshold. CDC director Thomas Frieden says consumption was associated with the most significant health effects.

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Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation has penned a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urging health officials to conduct further studies on the effects of the January 9 Freedom Industries chemical spill.

Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, along with Representatives Nick Rahall, Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley sent the letter Thursday.

The letter supports Gov. Tomblin’s request for additional studies and health monitoring of the more than 300,000 West Virginians impacted by the spill in the Kanawha Valley.

  The 24th Annual International Water Tasting took place Saturday in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and a Canadian  town walked away with the trophy for Best 

  Municipal Tap Water.

Among the judges for this year's competition was West Virginia Public Broadcasting Executive Director Scott Finn, who documented the event including a popular activity after the winners are announced, the "water rush" where members of the audience get to grab as much free bottled water as they can carry.

The folks in a Wyoming County community were dealing with unpotable water months before the chemical spill in Charleston.

About 170 customers, around 500 people, have been on a boil water advisory since September.

Kanawha County
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Kanawha County and City of Charleston Bulk Water Sites for Saturday, February 15, 2014 through Monday, February 17, 2014: