CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A team monitoring the quality of water in the Charleston water system indicated Saturday they are moving in the right direction, but are still not where they need to be.

Speaking live on MetroNews flag ship station 58-WCHS, State Adjutant General James Hoyer said a joint inter-agency team working on the situation is making progress, but probably not at the pace most are hoping for.

“We are seeing some positive trends,” said Hoyer. “But not numbers to where they need to be.”

The team is made up of the National Guard, Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health and Human Resources, a group of outside experts who have been brought in to assist, and West Virginia American Water Company.

“Those folks are all working together, synergized, to provide the best possible advice as to when we’re able to open the system back up for use,” said Hoyer.


Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was briefed at WVAWC headquarters Saturday. WVAWC President Jeff McIntyre, center, looks on.

They began studying the chemical Crude MCHM Friday which was a virtual unknown in a water treatment scenario Thursday. While the dilution in the water is coming down, it may take a while to get to what is considered a safe level.

He was also uncommitted on when that time would be. He did note bringing down the contamination level is on the first step in what may be a longer process.

“Once we get that number in place, then there are some other things that have to be done within the system to make sure everybody is using acceptable water,” Hoyer said.

The do-not-use advisory for customers on the West Virginia American system in nine counties remained in place Saturday.  A heavy rain and mist shrouded the Kanawha Valley and the odor of licorice hung in the air. The odor has been associated with the chemical which leaked out the tank at Freedom Industries a mile upstream of the Charleston water treatment plant on the Elk River.

“The fact that it’s raining, I”m told is a good thing,” said West Virginia Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. “Because it helps with the dilution.  They are trying to work quickly, but as safely as possible.”

Capito visited the command center where work to attack the problem is underway in Charleston.  She couldn’t offer any timeline on restoration to the 300,000 people impacted by the contamination.

“They did tell me this is a very complicated water system because of our terrain,” she said. “I think we have to be patient.  It could be a while.”

Three days after the spill and with few signs of progress, the patience of some is starting to wear thin.  Many were visiting water collection points in Charleston and surrounding regions to collect drinking water.  Some of the water is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency while fire departments and other organizations offered bulk flows to those who brought their own collection containers.

Hoyer indicated the end of the emergency won’t come immediately, but he said they are preparing for the next step of the recovery.

“We are beginning to finalize the plans that would need to be in place for outlying areas,” Hoyer said.

Once contamination levels at the plant reach acceptable levels, the levels at various points in the water system will also have to be tested and verified. A full flush of the system is also expected. The process could take days and involve bringing service back in zones rather than system wide.

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  • Larry

    Personally, I think the people who are going to the doctors/ hospitals are just trying to lay groundwork for a frivolous lawsuit, haven't seen one person interviewed yet with supposed side effects that I would trust as far as I could throw.

  • MyView

    I'm still waiting on someone to blame George Bush for this spill

  • james

    What you would rather see than the inspection report is the political contribution records of the plant, managers and owners. That might tell you a lot more.

  • WV Hillbilly

    Harrisonburg, VA has a population similar to the City of Charleston itself. Comparing populations within city limits. They have had the good foresight to construct 3 independent water sources for their treatment plant, which is actually on a hilltop, not near a stream. They pipe water for miles from a mountain lake near the WV line and two separate rivers. Why hasn't a city the size of Charleston, with so many threats to a single water source, not done the same? With proper monitoring and independent sources, they could have immediately shut down the Elk River intake, opened an unaffected source and reduced the down time and amount of flushing by an immense degree. Once again, West Virginia seems to half-a.. much of what is done!

  • Craig

    I am just so truly scared. What in the hell am I to do. So far since Thursday I have had to drink, and bathe from my toilet as the government says this is the only water I can use. I really can't keep going like this. I used my govt phone and called mom and asked if she could help but she told me to just go stand in the govt line for my govt water. I do not take handouts. I did however find water at krogers and used my SNAP card to purchase.

  • T

    Accidents happen. Let over it. This is not the time to wage a war on coal and other West Virginia companies and resources.

    Tree Huggers and liberals want a "accident-free" world and it just isn't going to happen.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected and to all the folks working to make things back to normal. They are doing the best they can. When it gets to 1 part per million, the ban will be lifted.

    • james

      How do you get this is an accident? This is just a fly by night operation with no maintenance and safety systems in place to save money. A regulatory system that did nothing to bring them into compliance. This has nothing to do with coal industry, no more than would an eighteen wheeler which was not kept in safe order wrecked and a tanker of liquid of oxygen caused an explosion is an indictment on the health care industry.

      A bigger question is why the company was not inspected and made to come into compliance. Most likely some political contributions could not have been made.

  • Cardinal

    Let's make sure all schools are closed until everything is safe and all students have clean water to return to school with clean bodies and clean clothing. And also since this is a state of emergency be sure these days are not made up. 180 days means nothing. It is the quality of eductaion not the number of days.

  • jm

    So sorry that those in the 9 counties are going thru this. However, since the Governor ordered all the State employees to work on Friday.... I hope that all those working closely in his office are unable to shower all weekend and then have to be extra close to him on Monday....

    • susanf1218

      Oh, I'm sure he has made special "arrangements" so that he and his chosen ones can be perfectly comfortable. They have probably all relocated to the Greenbrier. As for the rest of the state employees, he doesn't give a rat's rear end how uncomfortable they are. Just show up for work and EARN that generous "raise" of $504, by God!

  • Jason412

    @Roxanna News now is saying WVAW will credit up to 1,000 gallons for flushing the lines. At least they're doing that.

  • Far to the right

    For those that have symptoms, and need medical aid, will this be covered under Obamacare?

  • Mike


    I like to see the most recent DEP inspection report on the particular tank that leaked and for Freedom as a whole. Has anyone asked to see those reports?

  • Bobby Miller

    Informative interview Chris, thanks for keeping us informed as you have done throughout this mess!! You can tell your personal relationships with some of the top officials involved in this is solid, as we heard in this interview! Thanks buddy!!

  • Magic Mike

    Obama sent in a secret CIA team to cause the leak so he could create a crises to shut down all coal mining.

    • Annoyed Citizen

      Yet another right wing nutcase. This is one of those paranoid Tea Partiers who think everything in the world is all part of some secret conspiracy or plot against them. I miss the days when we could simply lock the nut cases up in Weston. It is SOOO much more believable that this was a secret plot than it was sheer negligence by a chemical company. Yeah. Right.

      • Joke

        Can't you tell a joke?

  • Dennis

    The officals don't know how long it will take to declare the water safe. They can only rely on the data from the testing. While they wait for the test results, their main focus will be to keep safe water supplied to the affected areas and try to relieve the anxiety of the affected population as much as possible.

  • cutty77

    I think before wed. next week everything will be fine. I'm washing Clothes tomorrow. I showered yesterday and today. Yesterday i could smell it,and this morning i could smell it,but the smell went away by time i stoped the shower. Did i brush my teeth with it,no i didn't. I kept dipping my brush in Listerine.So its moving on.