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A nonprofit organization is connecting homes in Wyoming County with tap water service for free.
A lot of people in parts of West Virginia have had inconsistent access to water, but for people who live on mountains, getting water can be even more challenging.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from the main road in Bud to the top of Bud Mountain. Many residents used to have a community well until it ran too dirty to use, they say.
Even after the local public service district ran main water lines, most of the residents couldn’t afford the personal hookup costs, until now, thanks to a nonprofit called Dig Deep.
It’s a haul to get to the construction site. On the way up, houses are spread out, so it’s hard to believe that there are more than a hundred homes that need water hookups.
Beartown and Herndon Heights are two communities on this mountain. Dig Deep’s Appalachian Water Project Manager Bob McKinney hired a team of contractors to install new, high pressure water lines from the main line to the homes. The project to bring reliable tap water to residents began with a survey to find out which homes can access the new PSD water lines.
“We’ve come up and done surveys of the places that have had [main water lines] run,” McKinney explains. “We’ll come up and do an interview with the homeowner to see if they want us to help and if they do then we’ll come up and start running lines.”
That’s when the construction crews come into the picture.
“What we’re doing right now we’re putting in water lines,” water and sanitation technician Buckey Osborne said.
The water lines are higher pressure and faster service than the current black plastic lines.
“We are digging the trenches to get it ready to run the service line to them,” Osborne said. “We are running them up to the house.”
On a warm, sunny spring day, two men are working behind a home to dig space for the new water lines. There’s only a few feet from the back of the house to a steep cliff. In places where the backhoe won’t fit, workers have to dig with shovels.
“They had a lot of trouble with the old line so they are coming in and putting new service in,” Osborne said.
The homeowner, Danny Byrd, has lived in the house for about 17 years.
“When I first moved up here they had a community well, but the water was nasty and red,” Byrd said, “Wasn’t good for much but showering and flushing the toilet. It was pretty rough. We had to bring our own drinking water up here for several years.”
Byrd explained that the community would collect water, at the bottom of the mountain.
“Down at Herndon at the bottom of Jug Holler,” Byrd explained. “You know where the hose is. That’s about where all of us got our water from.”
Byrd is semi-retired. A back injury has kept him out of work for a few years. He admits that the cost to connect to the main line would have been a tough expense. He gladly accepted the help from Dig Deep.
“So far, it hadn’t been any expense at all,” Byrd said. “They’ve provided everything, even installed it to the house. I asked them what charges there were going to be and he said none. Yippee!”
Dig Deep’s Bob McKinney said the crews plan to run lines to 33 more homes in communities like Herndon Heights and Beartown on Bud Mountain. They expect to be finished connecting more than 120 homes total by the end of July.