Jessica Lilly Published

A Rural Community's Water System:  An Emergent Emergency


Water donations from across the country are finding their way to West Virginia … still. But the Charleston area is not the only place where residents don’t feel safe to use the tap water. Residents in a community in Wyoming County have been purchasing drinking water since September.

Herndon Consolidated and residents in the surrounding communities have been buying their water for about five months. The community has been on a boil water advisory while ‘ownership issues’ are resolved and the aging water system is worked on.

Herndon Consolidated Principal Virginia Lusk showed public service officials the current condition of the water in the school last week. 

Although the water is passing bacteria tests, the boil water advisory remains in effect. Students at Herndon Consolidated continue to use plastic silverware, and Alpoca and Bud residents purchase bottled drinking water and are limited to washing clothes on the days when the water is clear enough not to ruin their clothes.

“This phone rings all the time people wanting to collect water and donate water from different states far away,” Lusk said.

Lusk says since our first story aired a few weeks ago, groups across the country have reached out to help carry the financial burden that residents have carried for months.

Although most residents take pride in their ability to adapt to the situation, some are growing weary and worry about the possible health effects of bathing in brown water. 

The ‘bad water’ has even caught the attention of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Wyoming County Emergency Service Director Dean Meadows says the National Guard visited the school last week to assess the situation. Meadows says the residents are not experiencing an emergency situation.

“We don’t want to sound unsympathetic to the people of Bud,” Meadows said. “We’re very sympathetic and we want them to know that we are doing all we can and I’m very appreciative of the attention that they are getting but to put them in an emergency situation where the state starts putting in water, who is going to bear that expense and where does it end when other communities are involved.”

In the meantime, Virginia Lusk says the school will continue to accept donations for the community until the boil water advisory is lifted. The community is encouraged to pick up water from the school.