MASON COUNTY — The contamination of drinking water in surroundings counties left many in Mason County concerned their drinking water was or could be affected.
Understandably, the phones to many local municipalities and the Mason County PSD have been ringing off the hook with questions from customers needing reassurance. Local officials stress the drinking water in Mason County is safe and free from the contamination.
The Mason County PSD released a statement on Friday saying all of its supply sources are deep wells and of the three supply sources the District operates, only one is downstream of the chemical spill. Because of this, a call was placed to the West Virginia State Health Department Friday morning to determine if there may be any danger to deep well sources. According to department engineers, the only danger to the well would be if it was under the influence of surface water or if it takes water directly from the river.
“None of Mason County PSD wells fit that description so our drinking water supply is considered safe from the contamination,” Dave Nibert of the PSD said. “Another factor which helps us is the dilution that occurs as water flows downstream.”
The PSD has been dealing with problems this week though none of them have to do with contamination. The extremely cold temperatures followed by the thaw have caused water meter and customer household water lines to freeze and then burst. In addition, the water emergency at Hannan High School earlier this week caused a large decrease in stored water - this incident alone dropped the water levels in two tanks significantly. Mason County Schools Superintendent Suzanne Dickens told the Point Pleasant Register the water leak at Hannan High School was a break in the sprinkler line in the shop area with the exterior supply line not affected - school was canceled for one day because of it.
The stress of multiple leaks and the unexpected situation at Hannan has left the PSD able to provide water to existing customers but unable to assist in providing water for the relief effort in surroundings counties. However, the City of Point Pleasant was able to provide 5,000 gallons to the West Virginia Army National Guard on Friday which picked up and delivered the water to the Eleanor/Buffalo area.
Point Pleasant Mayor Brian Billings said the city was happy to help its neighbors and if the situation was reversed, he believed other communities would show the same concern towards Point Pleasant.
Billings said understandably, the city was inundated with calls asking if Point Pleasant’s drinking water was safe and not affected by the contamination. Billings stressed the city’s drinking water comes from wells, not river water, and is therefore safe for consumption.
County Commission President Rick Handley was also getting calls from concerned citizens and tried to get the word out that the PSD’s drinking water was safe and he’d been told by PSD personnel that drinking water supplies in the Bend Area should also not be affected because of being upstream from the discharge.