Clean Up the Water
“By the way, a boil advisory was issued for us. Just wanted to let you know in case you didn’t see it on Facebook.”
That was a text I received one morning from a neighbor while living in Greenbrier County. It was my first introduction to the problems in West Virginia concerning water quality. I never heard of a boil advisory before since I only lived in Minnesota before this. After Googling what to do for a boil advisory, I had to adapt quickly. We boiled water for everything, including drinking water and brushing our teeth. The boil advisory happened not once, but several times throughout two years living in the valley.
Then the move to the Wheeling area happened. After signing the lease for our rental property, the property owner warned us to not drink the water ourselves and to not give it to our dog. We were told to only use it if it is boiled or being unconsumed, such as for laundry or showering. I stared at her for a while wondering how we are supposed to do that. Being environmentally conscious, my household tries to recycle and minimize plastic use. Now we were being told that a Brita filter is not enough to keep us safe and either a house filtration system or bottled water was the only way that we can have safe water.
We are not the only people to experience this. From 2016 to 2019, the NRDC found 378 out of 488 total systems that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA), which equals to 77.5% of water systems in West Virginia. At the same time, out of the 1.806 million people in West Virginia, around 912,650 people consumer water that was out of compliance with SWDA. In addition, 42 out of the 55 counties in West Virginia were among the top 2/3 in the nation for most time out of compliance.
This is not OK. Clean drinking water is a basic necessity. West Virginians have been taken advantage of for too long. We have yet to see a system where large corporations, especially out of state corporations, are kept accountable for the pollution that they cause, and we do not have the current infrastructure to provide clean water to all citizens. This needs to change. We need to get the good old boys out of office and create a better West Virginia for all.