Tap water use to resume in schools

On February 28, Governor Tomblin lifted the state of emergency following the January 9 leak of MCHM into the Elk River that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 residents across nine West Virginia counties. But many citizens are not yet ready to drink tap water. Concerns include West Virginia American Water’s lack of scheduled plans to change its carbon filters (and rid the cleansing process of any MCHM remaining in the used filters) and lack of water testing data from outlying areas.

Meanwhile, Kanawha County Schools superintendent Ron Duerring notified the school board on Friday that schools across the district would return to using tap water. A robocall to parents on Friday evening said that parents always had the option to send their children to school with bottled water and bagged lunches if they had concerns about their schools’ tap water usage.

Citing her ongoing skepticism, local parent Karan Ireland encouraged other parents to ask schools to distribute bottled water for the remainder of the school year.

“I’m concerned about the lack of notification,” Ireland said. “This brings questions up about schools that have enough bottled water versus other schools that don’t. I’m concerned especially for parents who have little kids in school who might not be able to say they’re not allowed to use it.”

Expectant mothers and parents of very young children face particular worries. As this article points out, there is no science about the effects of either the pure or crude versions of MCHM on fetal development or on babies. And it’s not only the Elk River, from which the water for nine counties is drawn, that is a concern. According to a study by Environment America, the Kanawha River has more reproductive toxicants dumped into it than any other river in the nation, and has the second largest concentration of developmental toxicants in it.

Parents are passionate about protecting their children, and when it comes to the need for safe, clean water, they can be downright fierce! If you are concerned about your children’s access to safe water, there are things you can do. For one, you can call school district administrators in your county and request that schools continue to offer students bottled water. Phone numbers for these public servants are below:

BOONE: John Hudson, 369-3131

CABELL: William Smith, 528-5000

CLAY: Kenneth Tanner, 587-4266

JACKSON: Blaine Hess, 304-372-7303

KANAWHA: Ron Duerring, 348-7770

LINCOLN: Patricia Lucas, 824-6000 x6229

LOGAN: Phyllis Doty, 792-2041

PUTNAM: Chuck Hatfield, 586-0500 x1104

ROANE: Mickey Blackwell, 927-6403

You could also call the state superintendent of schools, Jim Phares, to express your concerns and ask that the state department of education support continued bottled water distribution in effected schools. You can reach him at 558-2681.


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