CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has no problem using the water in his city.  “I’ve taken a shower every day (since a do-not-use water order was issued),” he told Hoppy Kercheval on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  “I bathed in worse stuff in Vietnam.”

State Adjutant General James Hoyer said he’s not avoiding the water either.  “I have been washing my hands, here in the Capitol, and drinking water from the tap because I am relying on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the experts there, as is this entire technical team,” he said.

Much of Charleston sits in one of West Virginia American Water Company’s blue zones, meaning business owners and residents have been cleared to flush their water systems and resume regular tap water usage.

However, more than 120 members of the National Guard were still working with state health officials and those with the water company on Wednesday to run hundreds of water quality tests in other parts of the affected region where the do-not-use order was still in effect.

According to recommendations from the CDC, the crude MCHM that leaked into the Elk River last week and made it through the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant and out to almost 100,000 homes and businesses, is safe at levels below one part per million (PPM).

On Wednesday, Hoyer confirmed the level of the chemical, in the water coming out of the treatment facility, was at zero parts per million.  He said that does not mean it’s been cleared out of WVAW’s vast system that reaches into parts of nine counties.

Results from more than a dozen of the most recent more than 600 water tests, he said, had come back with levels above the one part per million maximum.  He did not specify in what areas those high levels were found.

In many of the zones cleared to resume regular water usage, residents were reporting a licorice-like smell from the water along with a taste even after flushing.  WVAW said the scent was expected, but was not considered a health hazard because crude MCHM has a low odor threshold.

A lot of people remained wary, though, and continued stocking up on water from other sources.

“The next problem’s going to be when they cut off the free bottled water,” said Kent Carper, Kanawha County Commission president.  “We’re on the precipice of that happening and people, at least in my county, do not trust drinking the water, regardless of what they’re being told.”

“These people didn’t do anything to deserve this,” said Jones.  “I can’t believe this has happened and some people still don’t have water.”

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Comments

  • Thirsty In Charleston

    Has anyone actually seen them take a drink from the tap?

    • WVWorker

      I can say I have been drinking it too, but that don't mean it is true. Who would believe a politician about anything?

  • Gen Kemp

    In one of the first zones declared "safe", the water still smells horrid. it will take weeks/months of flushing to rid the chemical from the system. Safe to drink? How do they know 1 PPM is safe? The MSDS on this chemical gives very little information as to the immediate or long term effects. What a disaster.

    Drink at your own risk.

  • WEST VIRGINIAN

    Drink water @ your own risk.

  • Gary Taylor

    Hoppy, i agree with the mayor. All these folks who say they won't drink tap water after this, but when they go into a restuarant and order a fountain drink or tea where do you think that water comes from?
    Also United Dairy.in downtown Charleston packages bottled water for sale in stores,
    where does that water come from?

  • Wvsasha

    Wow...two officials we are supposed to look up to and follow their examples admit to not following the DO-NOT-USE ban?

    • Shauna Johnson

      Gen. Hoyer was talking on Wednesday at the State Capitol which was in a blue zone and had been cleared for water usage and flushed.