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Water emergency handled with calm resolve

 

Dear Editor:

I want to express my appreciation for all those who responded to the water emergency caused by the Jan. 23 diesel spill on Route 92 that flowed into Anthony Creek and then the Greenbrier River upstream of the Lewisburg Water system intake. Anyone who had to be out on the roads that night remembers the icy road conditions. Emergency responders tried to contain the leak, but overnight it travelled downriver and threatened our municipal water supply that provides water to about 12,000 people in Lewisburg, Ronceverte, Frankford, Renick and areas in between.

Quick decision making by our water system managers, in particular our Public Works Director, Mark Carver, in conjunction with Al Whitaker, director of Greenbrier County Emergency Management, allowed us to close off our intake and shut down our water plant and not allow any of the diesel fuel to enter our water system.

It was painfully slow for all of us to take the test samples and have them evaluated to prove that the water flowing by the intake did not have diesel fuel present. When we received that official word Monday night, we fired the plant back up and worked non-stop to fill the water lines and the tanks throughout the system to bring water back to our customers.

It was a minor inconvenience to some, a major inconvenience to many others, but thankfully, it was only an inconvenience and not a catastrophe. There were literally hundreds of volunteers and organizations who played a part in responding to this emergency – some by responding to the leak itself and its cleanup, some by donating and distributing both bulk and bottled water, some by getting the word out of what had happened, what was being done and helping people plan for getting through it.

I am extremely proud of the responders, but I am also very proud of the people who had to deal on an individual and family basis with not having water for several days. There was no panic. People understood we were working to solve the problem as quickly as possible. That calm resolve among all inconvenienced by this emergency was something I will always remember and respect.

John Manchester

Mayor, City of Lewisburg

 

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