Non-detectable levels of MCHM reported in 85 percent of WVAWC system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company said Monday that water sampling in 85 percent of its 1,700-mile pipeline system in parts of nine West Virginia counties shows non-detectable levels of Crude MCHM.

An interagency team has been participating in around-the-clock flushing of the system since soon after the Jan. 9 chemical spill on the Elk River in Charleston just above the WVAWC’s Kanawha Valley water plant. The spill contaminated the company’s system in parts of nine counties.

“Through ongoing systematic flushing, sampling and testing, the interagency response team has reached non-detectable levels of MCHM in multiple pressure zones, accounting for approximately 85 percent of our local service area,” WVAWC President Jeff McIntyre said in a Monday evening news release. “In remaining areas where
testing results are above the non-detectable limit, they are still extremely low and only a fraction of the CDC-established 1 ppm health-protective limit. Our team expects that it will take a few more days of persistent flushing and testing before all sample points used throughout the system reflect non-detectable levels.”

Monday evening brought to an end bottled water distribution in Kanawha County. County emergency officials said nearly 11.5 million bottles of water have been given out since shortly after the water emergency began. The total includes 261 tractor trailer loads of water with 44,000 bottles on each truck.

Kanawha County Deputy Emergency Manager C.W. Sigman said things are getting back to normal and the state isn’t receiving large amounts of water from FEMA.

“The county’s position is as long as we have it available from the state and FEMA, we will pass it out,” Sigman said. “These (Monday) are the last three truckloads we think are available. If we get more then we’ll make sure it gets distributed.”

Sigman said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined there is no danger in drinking water from the tap. It’s a recommendation he’s following.

“Personally I use tap water. My wife and I use it. We’re cooking with it. We’re using it,” according to Sigman.

Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy praised the dozens of volunteers who helped pass out the water.

“The amount of time dedicated by local Volunteer Fire Departments, community volunteers, Emergency Officials, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, and other County employees, in the worst winter weather in years is indescribably heroic,” Hardy said. “The time they spent away from family during this difficult crisis is one of the most unselfish efforts I have ever witnessed. I am asking everyone who received water from these volunteers to please thank those involved in distributing water in your community. This volunteerism has been especially critical to those who are homebound.”

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