Ashton Marra Published

West Virginia American Water Lifts Ban Zone-by-Zone


West Virginia American Water began the long-awaited flushing process yesterday afternoon for residents who have been without water since Thursday.

Residents in the nine counties began the flushing process using an interactive online map. The chemical leak has left residents without the use of water since Thursday. Residents have been instructed to follow a detailed process once their area is in the blue zone on a map at Jeff McIntyre is President of West Virginia American Water. He said it’s a three-step process.

  1. Turn on all your hot water taps and flush for 15 minutes and shut those taps back off.
  2. Turn on your cold water taps and flush for five minutes and then turn those off.
  3. Go outside and then go to your outside taps, any fixtures you have outside and flush for five minutes.

The press conference was held Monday afternoon at the capitol where McIntyre and others outlined the next step. McIntyre said residents need to follow the precise instructions located on the website for additional outlets that the public may have such as appliances.

“There’s the flushing and then it’s your appliances and fixtures, so if you have a dishwater and an icemaker there are additional steps that you may have in your house, but once you finish our protocol that’s laid out on several pages, once you’re done you’re done,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre did not offer a time table for how long it would take to get all zones through the flushing process. The first zone yesterday afternoon focused on the downtown Charleston area and included local hospitals in the region.

With the focus turning to how to prevent any future instances of chemical leaks into the water supply, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Randy Huffman says they’re already working on legislation to help prevent accidents like this in future.

“We’re also at the governor’s request developing some proposals for how we might more properly regulate these facilities in order to minimize the risk of a spill,” Huffman said.

Huffman said they are looking into ways to more closely pay attention to sites that are storage-only such as the Freedom Industries site where the leak occurred. Sites such as Freedom’s are not regulated like facilities that house the production of the chemical at issue.

McIntyre said from the perspective of West Virginia American Water it’s not time to look at risk assessment until they have got the water once again available to all its customers.

“We’re not doing anything of that work at this time, there is no risk assessment going on at this time, our focus is singular to getting the customers back into water as early as possible,” McIntyre said.

Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard said it may have taken a few days, but the group has been doing its best to deliver accurate information to people in the region.

“Every member of the inter-agency team that’s doing the testing and analysis and working this process has family members and loved ones that live in this area, so one of the over-arching things in addition to the science of what our folks are doing is the fact that we owe a responsibility to the citizens of the state and our families to provide the best information we have,” Hoyer said.

Members of the public seeking information on flushing process, should visit West Virginia American Waters site.