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Help Coming To West Virginia Communities With Bad Water

March 17, 2009

Charleston, WV - People in the area of Prenter in Boone County haven't been able to drink from their wells since they started going bad six years ago, but help could be on the way. The executive director of the Community Lutheran Partners youth group, Sarah Soltow, says the water is contaminated with heavy metals, and has caused all sorts of health problems.

She says people affected have clean water shipped in, and one woman told her it's a struggle to get by that way.

"I said how much water are you using? She said, 'Oh, about thirty gallons a week.'"

Soltow says the contamination might be related to bad sewage systems, poor infrastructure or coal slurry injected into inactive mines nearby. She says by the end of the month the youth group plans to help deliver or make available 2,000 gallon jugs of clean water.

Prenter has applied for connection to the local water system, and the state Department of Environmental Protection is studying the problem. In the meantime, Soltow says she favors a temporary moratorium on coal slurry being injected into inactive mines.

"That would be an excellent way to begin to approach this problem, which affects numerous communities around the southern part of our state."

A bill to do that is now before the state legislature. The DEP was ordered to study the issue two years ago, but hasn't come to a conclusion on the source of the bad well water.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV