Clarksburg Water Board inspecting thousands of lead lines as part of ongoing review

CLARKSBURG W.Va. — An official with the Clarksburg Water Board says thousands of metered lines have been reviewed in recent weeks in connection with possible lead contamination.

Paul Howe

Water board president Paul Howe said on Thursday’s ‘Talk of the Town’ on WAJR Radio the board continues testing for lead services, updating services where possible and distributing bottled water and filters for families affected.

Howe said the strategy includes materials inventory, sampling, corrosion control treatment and service line replacement.

“We’ve been testing now for some time,” Howe said. “There is no indication that lead is present in our raw water that we harvest from the West Fork River or the finished water in the treatment plant.”

Officials are compiling the data from their testing efforts so members of the public can stay informed about their neighborhood or friends and family.

“We’re reviewing almost 8,000 service connections to identify any actual or suspected lead lines,” Howe said. “We’re making an interactive map the public can use and we’re going to update it.”

Early on, officials prioritized testing for facilities relating to children.

“Additional target sampling locations used by children like daycares and all of your schools- we’ve checked them and they’re good to go,” according to Howe. “Those are the first ones we jumped on because lead toxicity has the most damage for children going through cognitive development.”

Clarksburg city council will consider a $15 million bond issue to mitigate costs incurred by the water board to remove and replace lead service lines. The responsibility to replace lead service lines from the meter to the home belongs to the property owner.

“Every time we discover a lead line we have to offer those people filters or drinking water,” Howe said. “Our guys, over the last two weeks, have given out nearly 1,500 cases of water and 1,200 filters.”

Howe said they have used different ways to locate possible contaminated services quickly, including government resources.

“That’s how we’re analyzing, when were these houses built, houses built in the 1800s didn’t have lead lines, you have to look at service records to see if they were updated with lead service lines. It’s been cumbersome, we’ve had the Harrison County Assessor’s Office help us with that,” Howe said.

The Clarksburg Fire Department and West Virginia National Guard have helped in distributing water, filters and assisting with overall operation.

Both the state Bureau of Public Health and federal EPA have been part of the lead investigation.

State Health Officer Dr, Ayne Amjad previously told WAJR News the testing was conducted after children with higher than normal lead levels were discovered as part of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Howe said the Water Board acted swiftly after learning of the issue.

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