WSAZ Tours West Virginia American Water Facility

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Since the chemical spill, we've all become more curious about how our water is treated and cleaned.

There are more than 85,000 toxic chemicals known, and West Virginia American Water says they can't test for all of them. That's why they say it's so important that any leak that happens is reported as soon as possible.

Every day hundreds of millions of gallons of water flow through the Elk River in Charleston. Of that, 40 million gallons go into West Virginia American Water's intake.

"Comes through the bar racks, then through the traveling screen, and then into the pump chamber," describes Tod Reedy, a senior maintenance service specialist with WVAW.

That's step one of five to get your water clean. From there, the water gets injected with chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, as well as a polymer. The polymer gets the sediment to stick together and sink.

The clear water on the surface is then sent to the activated carbon filters. This is perhaps the most important step, and one that you've heard a lot about since the MCHM chemical spill on Jan. 9.

"It's an absorption agent," Reedy said. "Anything, any taste or odor issues it should absorb."

The water is tested once it leaves this filter and goes to your tap. However, it's also tested at every stage of this process for things like PH, fluoride, hardness, and clarity.

There are taps straight from the river as well as from the mixing chambers, and the settled-water containers.

It's all to ensure the water is safe and clean.

None of the carbon filters that water flows through have been replaced since the spill. All 16 will be replaced in the spring.

The process takes two months. It will not affect customers' service.

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