Neighbors Left Waiting for Water in Kanawha County

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Downright dirty water has hundreds in the Upper Kanawha Valley hoping for a clean and clear solution.

Neighbors in the Leatherwood Hill area near Clendenin say a plan for a water system extension was pulled by the water company.

Currently, those living along and on that hill use well water. During the last decade, however, the water has taken a dive. It's now not drinkable and barely good enough to wash your clothes or take a shower.

"it looks clear coming out," James Newhouse said.

Sometimes it's what you don't see. However, if you can get beyond the sight around the facet, washing machine and soap dispenser -- try taking a whiff of well water.

"if you shake it up, you got a cute little, rusty water globe," Judy Newhouse said. "These {referring to a map} are all the people who are affected by this poor water."

The water reports show fecal matter, ecoli and mystery, mineral particles. But neighbors can actually see the clean water lines that feed the town of Clendenin and beyond from their doorsteps.

"All these signatures are the people who need water," Judy Newhouse said. "And this is not all of them."

A petition was signed to get the project approved. They thought they were clearly on the list for upgrades. However, documents show West Virginia American Water notified the Kanawha County Commission that it's pulling the plan.

"It's like getting kicked in the gut," James Newhouse said.

County commissioners tell the funding was there last year, but after a rate hike was rejected by the Public Service Commission, it left at least 200 high and dry.

West Virginia American Water says it wants to move forward with the project if funding can be secured and the investment can be backed up. A spokesperson tells since the rate increase wasn't granted, the company had to pull the project.

Stanley Rucker has been driving into town once, sometimes twice a day for the last six years to get water.

"This is how I get water for all of the household usage," Stanley Rucker said. "It's a lot harder than just opening the faucet."

He fills a 120-plus gallon tank full of water, knowing that back home the contaminants have an effect.

"They have no consideration for the health and safety of the people that live in my community," Rucker said.

It's a reality that for so many, is hard to swallow.

"To deal with that everyday," Judy Newhouse said, "that is depressing."

A complaint was filed against the water company by the Kanawha County Commission. Until both sides come to an agreement with the PSC, the project cannot move forward.

Commission President Kent Carper tells the county will have to apply for grants and get funding again to support the project. He hopes to start working on that soon.

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