CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company President Jeff McIntyre told a group of state lawmakers Monday his company hopes to begin applying a 1,000 gallon credit to customers’ bills impacted by the water emergency with this week’s billing cycle.

McIntyre took questions from members of the House of Delegates Health Committee. He was asked about the credit he promised to customers in the early days of the emergency. McIntyre said a meeting is scheduled Tuesday with staff members of the state Public Service Commission.

“We bill essentially every day of the work week and we’ll start applying those credits this week,” McIntyre said.

He explained it would be a financial credit that will apply to even low-use customers in the nine-county area.

West Virginia American’s Kanawha Valley plant in Charleston was compromised Jan. 9 when the chemical Crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River from the Freedom Industries site just upstream from the plant. WVAWC issued a Do Not Use order for customers in a nine-county region. It was lifted by zones but lasted for about a week.

McIntyre was also asked Monday if WVAWC would seek a rate increase for the costs associated with the water emergency. He said he doesn’t know at this time.

“I haven’t looked into whether we are going to apply for a rate effect for this,” McIntyre said. “Obviously there will be lawsuits and insurance but I’m going to do everything I can to protect customers from rate increase.”

The company agreed when it was given its last increase by the PSC not to seek another rate hike on customers until 2015.

McIntyre said the company would continue supplying bulk water to the area from its plants in Huntington and Montgomery but he said at some point things will have to return to normal.

“You have to remember we are putting out good quality water into the system. It’s not a perpetual supply of bottled water or bulk water,” he said. “We intend to keep the bulk water in place for a period of time.”

McIntyre also said he’s already agreed to change all 16 carbon filter caps at the Kanawha Valley plant even though they were not compromised by the water emergency, but he said he has no timeline when the replacements will begin because of many water line breaks and tank drainings caused by the winter weather.

“Until we get all of our leaks fixed up and get flows down to a normal level–we can’t change the filters, but again the filters are not compromised,” he said. “I understand we have to go out and rebuild trust in the community and that’s a question that’s going to endure, so at the right time we are going to address that.”

McIntyre has promised to return to the committee Thursday to answer additional questions.

 

bubble graphic

17

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Delford Chaffin

    "rebuild trust in the community" How does Mr. McIntyre intend to do that when their story keeps changing. During the 'do not use' time we were told that they system was handling the pollution until the filters became saturated in the afternoon. Now he is saying the filters really do not need to be changed! Also, why 4 or more months to change the filters? American Water Company is the largest water company in the United States. Do they not have the ability to change a filter quicker than 4 months? When Clendenin Water was sold to WVAWC I thought the sale was a mistake. Now I know I was right. Clendenin got their Elk River water 20 miles north of the leaking tank. Now Clendenin is paying a $10/month surcharge just for the privilege of using contaminated water from WVAWC.

  • Beckie

    Facts: Our water still has MCHM in it and nobody knows what any amount will do to someone's health. My water bill increased and my sewer bill increased 20%. I have bought and bought bottled water. I have received NO free water from anybody. the city state and or feds should be delivering water to every single household until such time as an independent source says there is NO MCHM in our water! Untimately, we all know that "we" the taxpayers are going to pay for this mess!

  • Pat Fot

    So let me get this straight, the filters were "over whelmed" not compromised. Yet, we were instructed to replace ALL filters in our home. Obviously Mr. McIntyre understands that trust must be rebuilt--right, that's why he can't keep his story straight. He wants things to retutn to normal so he can get back to making a profit. If he cared about building trust, he would not keep putting contradictory information out here.

  • JW

    We live in Fayette County, and just received our bill with a rate increase of $20. Mind you, there are only two of us in the household, and my husband travels 3 out of the 7 days a week for work. Our bill is now going to be a whopping $80 a month for using the LOWEST amount of water possible for the units being charged. Don't be fooled. EVERYONE ELSE will be paying for FREEDOM Industry's spill.

    • Charleston

      I am not disputing your claim, but how is your water utility connected to WV American Water? I am not connecting the dots?

      • Charleston

        Nevermind. I didn't know that WV Amercian water had sites in Fayette County.

  • PJ Doyle

    If all 16 of their Activated carbon filters are not "compromised" then it must be DEMANDED that they prove that they have been changed or recharged since their last confirmed delivery over three years ago.

    The average useful life is about one year. Without this proof, they are admitting that the water hasn't been properly filtered for aprox 2 years prior to this incident.

    WVAW has been repeatedly asked for this info and has repeatedly refused to release it.

    Here are my previous thoughts on this and their continued testing of only one of the seven chemical components of the chemicals in the spill:


    (Author's note: The first line refers to the CDC's letter confirming that they derived the safe level of 1ppm from only 4-MCHM and not Crude MCHM (which contains six chemical components) and the second chemical Dowanol PPH glycol ether)
    ---

    Considering the CDC's incomplete calculation of ALL the actual components of the contamination, as stated in this article, I am much more concerned than before about the newest information sheet from WVAW's "Next Steps" publication from Jan 19th pertaining to its filters.

    WVAW states that they are "backwashing"their filters, and "Activated carbon caps on our 16 filters are renewed or changed periodically as part of our normal operations.". This is unacceptably vague!

    They continue, " We plan to change the carbon in our filters when our treatment plant is operating at flows suitable for taking filters out of service. Changing out 60,000 pounds of activated carbon per filter is a physical process that typically takes 2-3 days each. (Personally, I don't care how long it takes to properly filter my drinking water...)

    They also state, "Regular backwashing, which cleans and flushes filters, is part of our plant’s day-to-day procedures"

    About that backwashing...(and I will try to do this in layman's terms, forgive me if I don't use scientific terminology)
    Activated carbon molecularly bonds to chemicals, and those bonds cannot be broken except at high heat in a kiln ("recharging" or "renewing"). The activated carbon is effectively "useless" and "saturated"at the point when all bonds have been made. The "Velcro has lost it 's sticking power" at that point, so to speak. No amount of backwashing will "renew" those bonds!

    The suggested "useful" life of activated carbon is approximately one year in a water treatment facility as I understand it.
    WVAW refuses to state when they last changed or recharged ANY of the 16-60,000 lb capacity activated carbon caps. "Periodically" is not a meaningful time period folks!

    WVAW's latest pablum does not state that the activated carbon was changed or "renewed" during this disaster either. I find that even more than disturbing, especially in light of the information in this article, about theCDC 's calculations.

    My concerns are:
    -How many chemicals are bypassing the system.

    -Backwashing does nothing to increase the bonding power of activated carbon.

    -Anthracite is not an effective filter for chemicals because the chemicals don't molecularly bond to it, it is more akin to using a coffee filter. It will "catch" debris, but not chemicals. So , backwashing is much like rinsing the coffee grounds from a coffee filter. It does not remove oily chemicals from our drinking water!

    -Where is the backwashing water coming from? And where is it sent after use? I'd particularly like to know this information during and since the spill.

    -CRUDE MCHM and PPH are used as a scrubbing agent to 'clean' coal. WVAW has now effectively done the same thing to the filtration system and and every inch of 70,000 miles of water lines between the water plant and its customer's- and then right to your faucet. Rather disturbing if you ask me.

    I want to know - WVAW will you ever be 100 % honest and transparent to the thousands of men, women, children and infants, whose lives are dependent on ethical business practices from you?

  • Independent View

    I'm certainly not defending WVAWC, but raise this question: what would happen if the the source of consumer water was owned by local government(s)?
    Taxpayers may have been handed the bill for remedation after the municipality(ies)/political subdivisions filed for bankruptcy.

    • Paul

      Taxpayers are paying for all the National Guard members that have been putting in a lot of hours testing the waters since this started.

      • Susan

        The water drawn by the National Guard and tested, is most often from external sources such as hydrants, and NOT from inside homes. As a person who holds a MS Degree in Industrial Safety Technology and who has performed hundreds, if not thousands of environmental tests such as this in heavy industry, they either do not know what they are doing, OR are catering to those that want certain desired results. OSHA would NEVER let me get away with sampling the air "outside" of a tank in which I was going to put men into in order to do their work! Sampling and testing 101 dictates that samples MUST be drawn from the point of potential exposure! A hydrant is NOT the point of potential exposure in this case! The tap is! In my professional opinion, hot water tanks have been compromised, therefore the many complaints from people smelling the chemical when using hot water more, as opposed to the cold side. There is a residue buildup that may never be able to be flushed out! The National Guard is either incompetent in conducting realistic exposure testing, or they are striving for a "desired" result! One or the other...its that simple!

      • The bookman

        As well as the bottled water from FEMA and the cost to distribute it, but in terms of rebuilding confidence in the physical water system lost by this crisis, those costs will be passed on to the rate payer by WVAW with the blessing of the PSC.

    • The bookman

      Rate payers will ultimately pay. That's what he means when he says, “I haven’t looked into whether we are going to apply for a rate effect for this,” McIntyre said. “Obviously there will be lawsuits and insurance but I’m going to do everything I can to protect customers from rate increase.”

      It all depends what the overall impact turns out to be when the dust settles. Public utilities are protected from too much profit or loss by the PSC. If they can't recover enough from insurance or the courts, the next option would be the PSC for rate increase. If the government was the owner, it would be the same.

  • Todd

    Why wait so long to apply the credit? West Virginia American Water expected customers affected by the crisis to pay their bills on time. Yet they delay applying credits they assured the public they would see on their bills. West Virginia American Water has betrayed the public.

    • The bookman

      They are controlled by the PSC. They cannot unilaterally do a thing until they get the approval of the PSC.

      • Todd

        They don't need pcs approval to issue a bill credit.

        • E

          Yes they do have to get approval from the PSC.

      • I'm honest at least

        The PSC is made up of a bunch of crooks that could care less about you or me.