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EPA Issues Emergency Order Over Lead Concerns in Clarksburg Water System

A view of Main Street in Clarksburg, West Virginia where concerns over lead in the city's drinking water system have drawn an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jesse Wright
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The city of Clarksburg’s Water Board received an emergency administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday that called on them to identify homes and businesses with lead service lines.

The EPA also asked the city to provide residents who are impacted by this possible lead exposure with drinking water or filters that are certified to removed lead.

The city’s water system impacts 17,686 people with 7,913 service connections. Additional people — more than 38,000 — also receive water from the Clarksburg system.

The EPA was emphatic in a news release issued Thursday that the water board must immediately identify homes and businesses that could be impacted and provide them “with a copy of its notification to Clarksburg homeowners indicating steps they can take to reduce lead exposure and that an alternative water supply has been made available or that certified filers were provided.” The EPA is also requiring the board to keep a daily log of which homes have received clean drinking water or filters.

The city of Clarksburg was first notified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on July 14 that it was in violation for failure to comply with an order that had been issued on July 2. The DHHR Bureau for Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program first identified the lead service line concerns in the city.

The EPA is urging parents of children under 6 years old who live in homes served by the city water board to talk with pediatricians about the risk of lead exposure. The agency said those doctors could determine if children need blood lead tests to determine if there is a problem.

The EPA noted that boiling water does not remove lead content. And it urged consumers to take steps to protect themselves including flushing water lines used for drinking and cooking and using bottled water for making baby formula.

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