I still vividly remember where I was and what I was doing.
I’m sure you do, too.
My phone started buzzing with that irritating emergency alert noise. I looked at it and was stunned to read the message. We couldn’t use our water for anything other than flushing toilets until further notice. I was confident they would get it all resolved in a day or so. It just couldn’t go on any longer than that. Could it?
My wife was sure it was going to take a while to get it all straightened out. Afterward, and to her credit, she never looked at me and said “I told you so”.
I recently read a really interesting article on the EPA Superfund program. It talked about how people had largely forgotten about the program and how it was now underfunded. Congress let the funding for the program lapse. The thing is, there are 1322 superfund sites across the country and another 53 that regulators have proposed for the program. While a number of those sites have been cleaned up and are now closed, many take constant maintenance as toxic chemicals continue to ooze from underground and have to be treated. How soon we forget canals that were so polluted they caught on fire or polluted ground that to be dug up and put in a specially-made landfill because of the barrels of chemicals literally in people’s backyards.
And those places aren’t somewhere else. One of the last stories I reported on as a newspaper reporter 20 years ago was the expansion of the Winfield Locks and Dam where the ground was so polluted from a rail car cleaning facility that the ground had to be incinerated before construction could move forward.
Did you know there are nearly 100 EPA Superfund sites in West Virginia? I was stunned when I looked it up.
But that was years ago. Things like that don’t happen anymore, right? The anniversary of the water crisis that gripped the Kanawha Valley is Friday. On January 9th, the water supply for the entire Kanawha Valley was compromised because chemicals were leaked into a river.
West Virginia is wild and wonderful and our greatest natural resource is the nature that surrounds us. Let’s not forget about that and let a water crisis happen again, or to anyone else..