“Whew! That was a close call!” said Mayor Travis Copenhaver about the recent water problem in Alderson. The Alderson Water Utility began pumping and treating water again on Monday, Jan. 26, in the late afternoon. As of 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27, the tank levels were at 26 feet with normal pressure and service restored except to the Federal Prison Camp which will remain on a water conservation plan for one more day.
“I simply could not have managed without the magnificent help of the staff of the Town of Alderson. Maintenance workers Rick Burns and Eric Duff and water plant operators Donnie Steep and Tim Terry, and operator-in training, Josh Collins, went so far beyond the call of duty it was simply incredible,” said the Mayor. “Town Clerk Cori Spinks and Assistant Michelle Miller answered innumerable phone calls. The Alderson Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) provided tremendous assistance in the laying of the boom. Bobby Rhodes from the Sewer Utility stopped when the boom was being placed to see if there was any way he could help while sewer plant operator-in-training, Brandon Boyd, provided assistance to the AVFD.”
The problem began late Friday night with a diesel spill into a tributary of Anthony Creek which, in turn, flows into the Greenbrier River, the source of potable water for many towns including Alderson. Being farther down-river, Alderson, had more time to react and prepare for the coming contamination. The water plant operator pumped the tanks full before closing the intake valve. Alderson then began a process of testing, waiting, and conserving.
The Greenbrier County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinated a containment effort which included the WV Bureau for Public Health; the US Environmental Protection Agency; the US Coast Guard; and some commercial environmental services groups including Clean Harbors and CORE.
Continuous support was received from Kimberly Gross, representing Governor Tomblin and Mayor Copenhaver received calls from US Senator Joe Manchin as well as Congressman Evan Jenkins. He also spoke to WV Senator Ron Miller.
After a series of negative test reports for diesel contamination, the Alderson Water Utility began pumping and treating water again in the late afternoon on Monday.
Mayor Copenhaver said, “I need to add thanks to Warden Rickards of the Federal Prison Camp for offering the use of her Fire Department as well as implementing conservation measures which are helping us get back on track and Alderson Main Street which used its face book page and e-mail list to help keep citizens informed.”
Because of the quick thinking on the part of Alderson Town workers and their fortunate location in relation to this particular spill, Alderson water customers never lost access to potable water. Because the system never ran out of water, no “boil water advisory” was necessary.
“I also want to thank the Water Superintendent at Meadow Bridge, Mr. Cales,” said Mayor Copenhaver. “We were able to help him a couple of weeks ago when they had water issues and he called to offer any help they could give. Thankfully we did not need it but it is so nice to have friends.”