Water Infrastructure

We bring you a special report and in-depth discussion on water infrastructure needs in West Virginia. Reporter Caity Coyne of the Charleston Gazette-Mail joins us to explore the issues and discuss two bills moving through the West Virginia Legislature that may address some of the need.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania are looking for a solution to the complex water infrastructure challenges facing underserved communities in places like southern West Virginia. As part of their solutions driven-project, a team of six students visited McDowell County to tour the water plants. Inside Appalachia host, Jessica Lilly, has that story.

Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader

HUNTLEYVILLE, Ky.-- Jessica and Tim Taylor’s prayers seem to have paid off.

The rain came. It filled the buckets that lined the outside of their home. It filled the small plastic pool by the barn they use to water the animals. But not knowing how long the rain will continue makes them anxious.

“It’s beyond stressful,” Jessica Taylor said.

In Southern W.Va., Residents Wary of Water's Health Effects

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

Joanna Bailey remembers crowding around the kitchen table with her family, carefully sticking stamps on the corners of her neighbors’ monthly water bills. Her dad managed water service in Glover, an old coal town along the Guyandotte River in Wyoming County.

Stirring the Waters: Investigating Why Many in Appalachia Lack Reliable, Clean Water

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

For many families in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water has become part of daily life.

They buy bottled water rather than drink what comes out of their taps. They collect rainwater in buckets, fearing there won’t be any running water at all the next day. They drive to natural springs on the sides of highways and backroads to fill up jugs for cooking and making coffee.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Molly Born, Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Caity Coyne and Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Will Wright have been working on a series of stories about water infrastructure issues in the southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky coalfields.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in May 2016, a jury found that a coal company owned by then-candidate for governor Jim Justice wasn’t responsible for contaminating the water wells of several Wyoming County residents. Still, an order requiring the firm to provide temporary fresh water stayed in place, and the water kept coming -- until recently, when it abruptly stopped. Molly Born has the story.

Benny Becker

On any given day in Martin County, Kentucky, the water system loses more water to leaks than it delivers to paying customers through their faucets.The water system is under a state investigation for the third time since 2002. Customers complain of frequent service interruptions and discolored water, and their bills come with a notice that drinking the water could increase the risk of cancer.

West Virginia's U.S. senators have announced $5.3 million in federal funding for sewer project in two counties.

According to Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will loan $3.6 million to the Jefferson County Public Service District to improve its sewer system.

Little Blue Run Coal Ash Impoundment
Wiki

The U.S. Senate passed a bill today to address water infrastructure challenges. It also incorporates provisions that affect coal ash regulations.


U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate will vote this week on a $9 billion water bill that West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito defended on the chamber floor Tuesday.

The Water Resources Development Bill is expected to pass with almost no opposition from the Republican controlled chamber.

West Virginia American Water
Foo Conner / Flickr

A new report released just days after the second anniversary of the Elk River Spill highlights shortcomings of the private water company that dealt with the spill. 300,000 people were told not to use their water for days following the accident.


Manchin, Capito Announce Water Infrastructure Help

Sep 15, 2015

West Virginians who still get their water from wells will soon get help.

Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito announced Tuesday that $131,310 will go to the West Virginia State Department of Health and Human Resources West Virginia Private Water Well Safety Project. The hope is to identify and address drinking water program performance gaps, improve efficiency and effectiveness of drinking water programs and identify and reduce exposures leading to drinking water contamination.

Why the Struggle for Water in the Coalfields?

May 8, 2015
Derek Cline

Water: it's a basic human need. On this episode, we'll get a glimpse into some of the water infrastructure needs in southern West Virginia. It's not easy to bring treated water to some of the remote places in the mountains. Wading through the bureaucratic application process, and finding creative solutions with multiple funding sources is often the only way to bring potable water to some rural communities. Find out what it's like to live with frequent outages and advisories, and the folks working to bring clean water to these areas.

Update Monday January 26, 2015 at 9:11 p.m. 

  Water samples taken from the Greenbrier River did not show dangerous levels of diesel, the Charleston Gazette is reporting.

This means the water intakes will be turned back on to refill the tanks and restore water pressure.

Earlier today, Al Whitaker said that after the intakes are turned on, residents will be boil water advisory for at least three days.

Daniel Walker

This week, we’ve been talking about water in the coalfields. We met folks that deal with frequent water outages and boil water advisories because of crumbling water systems, and heard stories of folks living with no water source at all. We also learned that proper sewage disposal is still a challenge.

 

Progress has been made. Just this past year, the Elkhorn Water Project began. It's expected to bring clean water to folks living in several coal camp communities along Route 52 in McDowell County. A project in Wyoming County is expected to bring a permanent solution to water issues in Bud and Alpoca.

US Department of Agriculture

For all of the concerns about water compromised by natural and industrial sources (and the cancer, decay, infection, and disease that can come with that contamination), director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, Paul Ziemkiewicz said the biggest threat in water supplies in southern West Virginia (and many areas in the state) by a long shot is raw sewage.


Jessical Lilly / WVPublic

In an ongoing look at water infrastructure challenges in the southern region of West Virginia, we consider possible health effects of long-term exposure to contaminated water sources. First: the health impacts of industrial contamination, as well as naturally occurring pollutants.

Daniel Walker

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure create challenges, just as it has for decades.