CLENDENIN, W.Va. – West Virginia American Water customers in Clendenin were still waiting Thursday to get the all-clear to start flushing their pipes. It’s been a week since the water crisis began but many of those customers say once the water is restored they’re not sure they want to drink it, cook with it or even bath in it.
“I probably won’t drink the water, at all,” said Jessica Petry who lives in Clendenin. With a 3- year-old and a 10-month-old at home, she said even when it comes to other uses for the water she will be very cautious.
“Probably run my washer three or four times, wash my dishes a couple of times,” she explained. “I don’t know. It’s just iffy.”
Her co-worker at State Farm, Michael Mullins, is even more skeptical about the water. He lives just three miles outside the red zone and gets his water from a public service district. He claimed those local PSDs supplement their water when it gets low with that of West Virginia American Water. His big concern is whether people who have PSD water have actually been using contaminated liquid.
“You know the water system, it’s complex. The way things are routed, only the people that work in that industry know the real answers.”
He said a thorough investigation must be conducted and those at fault for the water contamination prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“You can’t put a price on public safety,” he stressed.
Just down the street at the Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were still handing out cases of water Thursday. The line of cars driving through was steady. So far, the VFD has gone through 14 tractor trailer loads of bottled water. Asst. Chief Glen Summers isn’t sure when the fire station or his home will have potable water coming out of the taps.
“You keep thinking sooner or later they’re going to get it done,” he said. But after a week without he’s starting to wonder.
Jeff Nichols stopped into the fire station to fill up some water jugs. He says he’s not interested in splashing around in West Virginia American Water even after they’ve gotten the all-clear.
“I’m not going to trust it once it comes on!”
Capt. Thomas Mitchell said he’s one of the lucky ones. He has well water. He’s not so sure the West Virginia American Water supply will be safe either.
“The hospitals are having an influx of patients because the water is breaking people out,” he said. “To me, that tells me it’s not treated properly.”
West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre has assured the public on several occasions that the water does not pose a danger to customers.
“If they wait until we clear their area and we put the sign up that they are blue (on the company’s interactive map) and then they follow the protocols that we have established and have been approved by the health department, then they’re safe to drink their water,” McIntyre previously told MetroNews.
However, the CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid drinking the tap water and rely on bottled water until all the contaminates are out of the system.