CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A State of Emergency remained in effect Sunday night in nine counties, though West Virginia American Water Company officials revealed details of how they plan to eventually lift the do-not-use water ban by zones.

Portions of Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Jackson, Clay, Logan, Roane and Cabell counties have been impacted by contamination from Thursday’s chemical leak. More than 200,000 people in those areas have been instructed not to consume, bathe or wash laundry with their water for more than three days.

“Things are looking right. They’re trending in the right direction,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Sunday night.

“I believe that we are at a point where we can say that we see light at the end of tunnel. I ask all West Virginians to continue to be patient as we work to safely restore service to the affected areas.”

Water quality was potentially compromised Thursday when a leak of 4-methylcyclohexane methane—a chemical used in coal preparation—was discovered at Freedom Industries along the Elk River in Charleston.

As water-safety testing continued, schools were scheduled to remain closed Monday in Kanawha County, Putnam County, Boone County and Lincoln County.  Culloden Elementary in Cabell County and H.E. White Elementary in Clay County were also closed.

Dr. James Phares, state superintendent of schools, said the goal was to re-open most schools by Tuesday, but that would depend on testing results. He said school workers in affected areas would spend Monday cleaning school lines, systems and appliances.

A do-not-use water order has been in effect since 5 p.m. Thursday when tests confirmed the chemical was in the water at the Kanawha Valley water treatment plant. At that time, WVAW said the order was out of an “abundance of caution” because it was not immediately clear what severity the chemical, even in a diluted form, could have on health.

By Sunday night, about 72 hours later, state officials said the results of water quality tests were allowing them to move to the next phase of restoration.

“Over the past 24 hours, sampling and testing has provided confirmation that….we have, at the water treatment facility, a consistent number of one ppm (parts per million),” said state Adjutant General James Hoyer.

National Guard Col. Greg Grant confirmed zero ppm of the chemical was detected at the plant’s intake and zero ppm was detected at the plant’s outtake for a period covering 24 hours.

The next phase of the restoration process will involve water testing in WVAW’s individual water zones, starting at the treatment facility, and spreading throughout the entire system.

“Continuous operations are going to go on as long as necessary to ensure that we get all the samples, throughout the zones and the districts, taken care of,” said Grant. He said 16 teams were working 24 hours a day to collect water samples to send to 10 labs throughout West Virginia.

Jeff McIntyre, the president of West Virginia American Water Company, said, once test results indicated the presence of the chemical in the water in individual areas was below the acceptable level of one ppm, the do-not-use order would be lifted by zones.

“Those zones are prioritized. They’re done by pressure zones so they will overlap zip codes. They will overlap county lines. They’ll overlap system lines, because they’re based on our system’s pressure zones,” McIntyre said.

Customers in zones receiving the green light must go through a protocol the company had not yet issued as of Sunday night. The protocol, McIntyre said, would serve as instructions for flushing home plumbing systems.

“We can’t have all the customers doing this protocol all at the same time or it could hinder our recovery efforts,” said McIntyre.

When it begins, he said the process would start with four zones in the immediate Charleston area involving an estimated 25,000 homes and businesses, including four major hospitals, that use 60 percent of the water from the affected plant.

Those first four zones cover an area in downtown Charleston, from the plant along the Elk River, to the 35th Street Bridge, Kanawha City, South Charleston and the West Side and North Charleston communities.

McIntyre would not provide an estimated timeline for the launch of green-lighting process. “I don’t believe we’re several days from starting to lift, but I’m not saying today,” he said.

WVAW customers will be able to check the status of their properties—whether they’re in green zones and allowed to start flushing their water, or in red zones and still under the do-not-use water order—through a website mapping system that had not yet launched Sunday night.

According to WVAW, automated phone messages would also go out by zones and a 24/7 hotline would be available for inquiries about the zone opening schedule.

All state offices were scheduled to open on regular schedules Monday.

Karen Bowling, the secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said 10 people have been admitted to hospitals for treatment while 169 others were treated and released at emergency rooms.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said the agency had delivered more than 2 million liters of water to Charleston from its Maryland distribution centers in Cumberland and Frederick.

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Comments

  • Kim Burgess

    What does the state plan on doing for people that has missed work due to the water. I'm a home maker and go to homes of elderly to clean and I can't do that without running water. I can't afford to go days without work.

    • Suga

      I think the company who caused this horrible condition should pay you!
      With more big business destroying our resources...(Fracking) this will only happen more often. Don't be fooled...we need alternate energy sources.

  • Will

    How exactly, and with what clean water, are the school employees supposed to flush the systems and clean the cooking utensils at the schools so the kids can go back to school on Tuesday when none of the zones are even green yet? Am I confused or missing something?

  • Teresa Daniels

    Is drinking this clean water going to give us the poops because your giving out toilet paper? I have been drinking dirty water for a very long time. And my throats geting sore already? Are we going to get sick from clean water? Now that we have had this toxic water?

  • Teresa Daniels

    Our septic tank came down the river do you think it made them immune? Lol. About 7 Years ago....or so. Immunity is a good thing. We have already drank nasty water... and my body might not take clean? My dog kisses me does that help..not french...lol

  • Teresa Daniels

    Since we drank toxic water for awhile, how sick we going to get for drinking clean water? My body might not take clean water just like it will not take clean air.. nothing clean for me I like dirty....lol except my bath. Need bath...

  • northforkfisher

    I hope when the green light is given that the water is truly safe. To many times the wonderful people are misled, we are not the inbreed barefoot people they think. We are educated, and we the people of West Virginia care more for the land than any of these money grubbing trash.
    They think grease the politicians and it will go away. They are wrong. We need to make sure everything is the way it was before, when they are done.
    My prayers and thoughts to all affected. Hang in there, the rest of the state is behind you.

  • Teresa Daniels

    Ask the DEP why they were on private property in Blue Creek, where there is no plant. They were to interested. In what I wasn't burning... which was nothing. Not doing there jobs..

    • northforkfisher

      Tell me about it. One of their workers uncle lives below me. He burns trash , throws trash in the river when it is high and nothing is done.
      I hold my trash for free day every month. I have been fined threatin with court and jail. They strongly warn me not to burn one thing and always to have receipts for everything.

  • To The Raleigh

    People have not been able to shower for the past five days, they are unable to wash their hands after using a restroom and it is the height of flu and cold season and State employees still expected to be at work. That does not seem very sanitary to me!

    • Mike

      The Governor doesn't care about the health or the hardships of his employees or any state resident, only what looks good politically for him.

      • Teresa Daniels

        Amen, on they only care about what people see. And they only tell them half the truth. And cover the rest up. They cover so much up. I want to move the door mat. To see what's under there... skeletons ..

    • RandResident

      It has only been 2 and half days not 5 days. Learn to count. The "Do Not Use" went out Thursday evening and it is only Sunday. This is West Virginia you should know how to survive primitive camping style. My family and I are affected by this and we are clean and not stinky.

      • Mike

        You're the one that needs to learn how to count. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday = 4. Really, duh!

      • Chuck

        No shower on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday is 4 days. Count them Rand.

      • travis

        "LIKE"

  • Packfan

    Legislative personnel left Charleston and aren't expected back until Monday of next week. All other workers however are expected to go to work tomorrow....go figure. BTW, and one know the address to the webpage we keep hearing about?

    • Legis Employee

      That's not correct. All legislative employees will be reporting to work tomorrow.

      • Packfan

        So WOWK is wrong?
        http://www.wowktv.com/story/24428394/water-contamination-drowns-session-legislators-and-officials-leave-charleston

    • redgal

      I'm a Legislative employee and all staff and members were notified to be here today. And we are.

      • Huh?

        Judging by the parking lot at mid-morning, there weren't many here. I think I saw a handful of cars. Not like they will get anything done anyway.

  • when will my water work

    when will my water work

  • Guy

    Metro News makes so many errors second paragraph Lincoln County not listed

  • brenda

    Dr. Phares is going to magically be able to wash and flush lines at achools whether or not the areq has been released??? I don't think ao..

  • Why

    I saw some inept and unimportant people (one in particular) standing behind the podium? What exactly are they contributing?

    • WSC

      One alarming question was asked during the press conference. What happens to this chemical once it is used in the coal processing process? It is allowed to flow into our streams? Tell me I heard this wrong!

      • Will

        Agreed! That was a disturbing answer. Either some people have been drinking this all along and/or it's really not that bad after all and this has been a big waste of panic.

        • Why

          You would be surprised just how many things this chemical is used for. It's just in very small and very diluted amounts.

    • susanf1218

      The only other one, speaking of "inept and unimportant", who was missing was MoJo Manchin. I am really surprised that he hasn't been all over this and making sure that he gets his face time.

      • Wowbagger

        Susan,

        I think Big Time Mojo has officially left West Virginia for bigger media markets (until election time). Now if say FOX News does a segment on the problem Mojo will be there!

      • I am too wondering

        Where is Joe he is always running at the chops for non important issues this is one he should be on.

  • Mike

    The real health hazard is thousands of people expected at work on Monday with less than usual cleaning habits performed. One or two days is one thing, but 5 days or more without a complete bath or shower? Evidently the state and other health departments are not concerned, or not doing their jobs.

    • Jeannie24

      The water ban advises to only flush toilets with the lid closed. How many office buildings have lids on the toilets? The diamond building certainly does not.

  • a bit umeasy

    Not Convinced Its All Id Drink The Water AFter We Turned On Water Today And What The Odor Was Like Sure DoNt Want To.Send Kids To.School When Folks Havent Showered For 4-5 Days And UsiNg Water Fresh Off For.cooking

    • carrie

      i know there doing schools first but im not gonna send my son to school cuz for one i dont trust theier cleaning the pipes with what water will they use to do it?? and for 2 the schools water mite get cleaned what about my homes water im not sending him without clean clothes and a bath!!