Wednesday morning update: West Virginia American Water lifted the Do Not Use order in parts of Dunbar, Nitro, Sissonville, Poca, Bancroft, Winfield, Buffalo and Staves Branch late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Consult the link to the map below with your exact address to see if your area has been lifted.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia American Water Company apologized Tuesday afternoon for the delay in lifting the next zone under the Do Not Use water order.
“We are sorry the next order lift is taking so long. The ban is being lifted in a strict, methodical manner to help ensure the water system is not overwhelmed by excessive demand, thereby causing more water quality and service issues. Thank you again for your continued patience,” the company said on its website.
The delay likely contributed to the decision by the Kanawha County school system to cancel classes again for Wednesday. WVAWC did announce at 4 p.m. the South Hills area of Charleston near George Washington High School had been lifted.
The company made further progress by Tuesday evening when it announced at just before 6:30 that it had lifted the order for Alum Creek, Upper Falls and a small section of Putnam County.
WVAWC spokesperson Laura Jordan said Tuesday on MetroNews Talkline the zone-by-zone lifting of the order, which began Monday evening, was continuing at a slow but sure pace.
“We may be able to refine some of those groupings,” Jordan said. “We are kind of grouping some of the smaller zones together to allow more customers to come back on depending on how the samples come in.”
Two zones were lifted Tuesday morning, Edgewood and Southside, but no other zones were added to the list by mid-afternoon.
WVAWC’s Kanawha Valley water plant was inundated with the chemical Crude MCHM Thursday after it spilled from the Freedom Industries storage facility less than two miles above the plant on the Elk River. A Do Not Use order went into effect that evening. It began to be lifted Monday afternoon. The flat areas of Charleston and South Charleston were first.
Jordan said predicting when all customers in the nine-county region would be back on is difficult.
“We really cannot determine that. It’s really all based on demand, production and samples,” she said.
Experts continue to test the water quality through the system.
“We see how the system is reacting to all of the flushing that’s going on and how production is able to keep up with demand. The last thing that we want to happen is to lift an area, tell them their water is okay to use after they flush, and then not have water to use for them after flushing.”
Jordan said there have been continuing reports of a strong licorice odor in the water.
“We’re told that it’s a chemical (Crude MCHM) that’s got quite an odor to it in very, very, very small amounts and just because you can smell it does not mean there’s any health risk,” Jordan said.