The Page-Kincaid Public Service District has received a $50,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services to install an advanced source water monitoring system, according to facility manager Bart Jackson.

James Kincaid Jr., PSD chair, noted appreciation to the state for providing this device and to Thrasher Engineering for the assistance with the application. He noted that the grant indicated confidence in the PSD to provide quality aquifer water to a large number of rural families in western Fayette County.

PSD Commissioner John David explained there has been concern about obtaining water from sources other than the deep aquifer wells used by the PSD. For example, he noted problems with water sourced from the “Dark Waters” New River used by West Virginia American Water. The New River is contaminated by agricultural pesticides in the Carolinas, chemical plants in Virginia, a railroad tank car dump near Princeton, PCBs from Minden, black fly spraying, railroad pesticides along the tracks in the New River Gorge, and a major abandoned riverside dump in Fayette County near Cunard.

In addition, according to Virginia Tech’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering, drinking water from 19 springs that feed the New River tested positive for coliform bacteria, which indicate that disease-causing organisms could be present, and E. coli was found in half of those streams as well. E. coli bacteria can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Currently, West Virginia American’s New River water is not tested for E. coli, chloroform, Giardia, personal care products and pharmaceuticals, including prescriptions (over-the-counter and veterinary medications) and PFA (polyfluoroalkyl). PFA substances have been detected in the blood of more than 98 percent of the general U.S. population and cause kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and pregnancy-induced hypertension. It is a carcinogen, a liver toxicant and an immune system toxicant.

According to Angie Rosser of the West Virginia River Coalition, a new bill led by Del. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, called the West Virginia Clean Drinking Water Act of 2020, was introduced in the Senate as S.B. 679. This bill aims to identify and reduce exposure to a class of chemical toxins known as polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

These substances are “forever chemicals” and accumulate in the environment. A main source of exposure to PFAS is through contaminated drinking water. The act takes four important steps: establishes PF AS water quality criteria to set safe limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals allowed in water supplies; sets a statewide maximum contaminant level (”MCL”) on the amount of PF AS allowed in tap water; requires polluters to report and monitor their use of PFAS; creates an interagency WV PFAS Action Response Team.

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