Some residents switching to well water after chemical leak - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Some residents switching to well water after chemical leak

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You can lead someone to water, but you can't make her drink it.

Tim Harmon knows that all too well.

"We've had a lot of calls from Charleston people wanting to replace their city water," said Harmon, of Harmon & Sons Water Well Drilling, who's serviced five people in the affected area this past month.

Harmon said the demand for drilling spiked after the chemical leak last month. At least 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries near Charleston, contaminating the water supply of nearly 300,000 West Virginians.

Some residents say they're ready to switch to well water after living through the crisis.

"I'll wait as long as it takes," said Angie Morris, of Campbells Creek. "And if I can't get it immediately, then I'll just continue to do what I'm doing. But I refuse to use the water."

Morris, the mother of four children, uses bottled water to cook and drink. Several buckets in her living room store water for the dogs. She even uses the water from her neighbor's well.

"I've got children to think about," Morris said. "I can't take any chances."

At one point, the family did use well water. Morris said they sealed the well about ten years ago for safety reasons. Now, she wants Harmon & Son to drill another.

Only certified drillers, approved by the state, can install wells. The process also requires a residential permit from the county health department.

Before issuing the permit, inspectors need to check for sources of contamination on the resident's property, Harmon explained. These threats to the potential water supply include sewer lines, septic, diesel, and oil tanks.

Officials at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department did not immediately return calls Thursday. Their website indicates inspectors must also test private water supply for bacteria. Cisterns and springs may only be approved if the resident uses "a chlorinator or ultraviolet light for disinfection."

For a list of certified drillers, click here.