West Virginia community order to not use tap water enters its 4th week following water plant malfunction

Residents Urged to Avoid Tap Water Due to Chemical Contamination

For the past four weeks, residents in northern West Virginia have been facing a rather inconvenient problem: they can’t use their tap water. Why? Well, it all began with a hiccup at a treatment plant that caused a hazardous chemical to sneak into their water supply.

Dr. Matt Christiansen, the state’s health officer, revealed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found something called tetrachloroethylene in the water that serves the folks in Paden City, situated along the Ohio River. Now, what’s this mysterious tetrachloroethylene? It’s a not-so-friendly chemical often used by dry cleaners. Although Paden City did have a dry cleaner, it closed its doors a while ago.

The “do not use” order was issued by the city on August 16 after a pump valve at the water treatment plant misbehaved. They thought they’d fixed it, but they needed to be sure. So, they’ve been testing the water ever since.

Dr. Christiansen assures everyone that they’re working hard to make the water safe again. He said, “We understand everyone’s frustration at the local level and concern with the situation. But our goal remains getting that water back on and doing it safely.”

This isn’t the first time Paden City has had a run-in with tetrachloroethylene. In fact, last year, the EPA added the town’s groundwater to its Superfund cleanup list, which is like a VIP list for places that need environmental help. It means they can get federal funds for cleaning things up. Turns out, the groundwater in Paden City had more tetrachloroethylene than it should, according to the EPA. This chemical is known to potentially cause cancer and harm your nervous system, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system.

But here’s the twist: Paden City has known about tetrachloroethylene in its water since around 2010. The levels were okay at first, but they started breaking the rules in 2018, leading to a violation notice. The good news is that they got a fancy new water treatment plant in 2020.

Now, Governor Jim Justice reminds us that dealing with federal agencies can sometimes feel like watching a snail race, but in the end, they’re the ones in charge of fixing this mess. So, while the people of Paden City wait for their tap water to get back to normal, they’ll have to rely on bottled water for a little while longer. 🚰

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