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Bulk Water Dispensing Halted Til Further Notice

Reported: Jan. 16, 2014 11:22 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 17, 2014 7:36 AM EST
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Charleston, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - The bulk water supply was halted temporarily Thursday night, after concerns about where that water was coming from. Kanawha County Emergency officials stopped bulk water distribution at various points. Apparently, some of the water buffaloes were being filled at West Virginia American Water in Charleston and then taken to those sites throughout the County. Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he does not know when that practice started, but he believes it wasn’t until after the ban was lifted.

But after getting several dozen complaints about the water smelling like MCHM, the tankers were pulled back and taken to be re-filled in Montgomery, outside of the affected areas.

You can imagine the level of frustration from people in the blue zones, who were told that their water is now safe, but are afraid to use it. Once they learned Thursday night, that the water they’ve been filling-up their containers with at Riverside High School in Quincy, came from the Charleston plant, ground zero of the water crisis, they got hot.

"There was a smell to the water they were taking out of the water buffaloes," said Jennifer Sayre, the County Manager for the Kanawha County Commission.

So West Virginia American Water told the County they were pulling their water buffaloes out of service until further notice.

"It's our understanding that the water put in the water buffaloes from the water company, were at the zero parts per million threshold, when they were filled at the Charleston Plant, however, we were just not aware that they were filled at the Charleston plant," said Sayre.

All told, 5 water buffaloes were pulled out of service Thursday night, which had contained the funny-smelling water James Hudson had been collecting at Riverside High school all week.

"And I like licorice, I just don't like it in my water!,” said James Hudson of Witcher Creek. "And then they're telling me now that it's safe to drink. But I can still smell it when I turn the tap on, so no, we're not gonna drink it, we're not gonna cook with it.” “But will you bathe in it?,” we asked. “Well, I'm fixin' to,” he laughed. “We're taking sponge baths and I absolutely want a hot, hot shower and I guess if it peels the first couple layers of skin off of me, I'll get rid of some tattoos I shouldn't have gotten in the first place!"

"I saw you pumping your fists when you were walking away,” we said to Vickie Miller of Chelyan. “Oh yeah, well I have an aunt that's 90 years old that lives ten miles up Cabin Creek and she hasn't been cleared yet to do anything. So, I not only get water for me, but for them too, so it's even more frustrating, they haven't been cleared yet. Have you been able to shower at all? No. Are ya just goin' nuts? Yes! What do you want to say to West Virginia American Water? Ummm I can't say that on air."

This is the list of locations where bulk water distribution was suspended. These were operated by West Virginia American Water. You can still get bottled water at these locations. Bulk water should be available again starting Friday morning at these locations:

BELLE VFD
CLENDENIN VFD
CROSSINGS MALL - ELKVIEW
GLASGOW VFD
MALDEN VFD
AND THE WATER BUFFALOES -- THAT ARE NOW BEING FILLED UP IN MONTGOMERY, WILL BE SET UP HERE TOMORROW AS WELL, STARTING AT 8 AM....
MARMET RECREATION CENTER
NITRO POLICE DEPARTMENT
SISSONVILLE VFD

West Virginia American Water issued this statement saying, "THE TANKERS ARE BEING RE-FILLED AT OUR MONTGOMERY WATER TREATMENT PLANT.
ALTHOUGH SAMPLES FROM THE KANAWHA VALLEY PLANT HAVE CONSISTENTLY SHOWED NO DETECTION OF THIS CHEMICAL IN THE WATER SINCE MONDAY NIGHT, WE ARE FILLING THE TANKERS UP ELSEWHERE
SO THAT THE PUBLIC SHOULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS FOR CONCERN ABOUT THE PROPERTIES OF THE WATER THEY ARE RECEIVING AT THESE DISTRIBUTION SITES."

Sayre will be meeting with County and City Emergency Management officials at 7:30 Friday morning. They hope to get some definitive answers from West Virginia American Water to alleviate any further fears, that water which was trucked out from the Charleston plant, and dispensed at the water buffaloes and ingested all week, is indeed safe.



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