West Virginia American Water Customers Complain of Added Cost

RAND, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- While emergencies will lead to a wild rush at the Rand Volunteer Fire Department, most days are relaxed and empty.

However, on Friday, something as simple and mundane as collecting the mail caused quite a stir.

"We received a notice from the West Virginia American Water company noting that we needed to install a backflow valve," Fire Chief Bob White said.

This notice wasn't their first. A slip was filled out a month ago regarding their service, one White listed as domestic.

"All we have is a toilet and a sink and a garden hose," White said.

This new one, however, listed them as a business.

West Virginia American Water referred us to their website, where it says the valve is required for all non-residential customers to prevent contaminants from getting back into the system.

It's enforced by West Virginia Legislative Action.

White's issue is simply the cost, a cool grand to put in the valve plus a couple hundred dollar annual fee for inspection. For a volunteer squad with limited funds, that's a lot of money.

Malden Town Barber Shop had to have a backflow installed three years ago at a cost of about $1,500.

Jennifer Longwell, like White, says they hardly use any water and doesn't get the point.

"You may clean up, mop the floors, and that's about it," Longwell said.

Still, if they didn't have it: "They will shut your water off," Longwell added.

Instead, they wish valves would be required based on usage.

It's an expensive cost of safety that now has some businesses wondering why if their money is just going down the drain.

For information on the backflow system, visit: http://www.amwater.com/wvaw/water-quality-and-stewardship/crossconnection.html


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