There is no escaping the importance of paying more attention to where our water comes from, especially after the recent chemical spill into the Elk River. Apparently, we currently intake our water downstream of the local landfill.
On Jan. 21, the Lewisburg City Council met; and Public Works Director Mark Carver announced the city’s multi-million dollar water project plans to move the water intake valve. Currently the water is pulled out of the Greenbrier River below the landfill.
The landfill was recently fined $11,500 after a severe rainstorm caused pollutants to leach from the landfill into the river. Carver pointed out that incidents like this increase the importance of moving the intake valve upstream. He also said the plan involves purchasing property about one mile upstream of the landfill and locating the water valves there.
Carver also pointed out that the city currently meets or exceeds all state regulations for clean water at the plant.
When council member Mark Etten inquired if the landfill had notified the water plant about the incident which led to the fine, Carver said, “No sir.” He added that he had reached out to the landfill before about an early warning system in case pollutants from the landfill leaked into the river and added, “We never got a response back.” Etten encouraged Carver to reach out again to the landfill about an early warning protocol.
Carver claims there is a low possibility of a chemical spill into the Greenbrier River as there are no chemical plants along the river.
Council member Joseph Lutz asked Carver if the water plant tested for heavy metals. Carver said it was not fiscally feasible to test for every metal out there, saying as well, “It’s expensive. There are thousands of things to test for, but heavy metals has never been high on the list.”
Mayor John Manchester said additional water testing will be required with the new water plant because it will furnish water to over 10,000 people, which triggers further testing according to state regulations. Carver said the new plant will allow for in-house testing and will also have carbon filters, which would help alleviate any heavy metals.
When asked by Recorder Shannon Beatty about our emergency water supply, Carver explained that in the event of an emergency, we have a three and a half day supply of water. He added, “That’s a normal requirement of the state.”