CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The Clarksburg Water Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening to consider the proposed Corrective Action Plan due to residents testing positive for lead.
Officials with the Clarksburg Water Board approved the action plan. That action plan includes four major tasks which will require the board to review eight thousand service connections to identify actual or suspected lead service lines. Secondly, the board will perform increased system-wide sampling to identify lead contamination. Thirdly, they will investigate and test alternative corrosion control methods.
“Lead lines were used for 40 or 50 years throughout the state and the country. I know there are estimates of 20 thousand lead lines in the state, that is probably grossly underestimated, there are probably 100,000 lead lines still in use.” said Paul Howe, President of the Clarksburg Water Board.
“The problem is when the water is corrosive enough that it leaches the lead out of the pipe and a number of things come into play, especially if the water lays in the pipe for a long time it can leach more lead out of the pipe. There are a lot of variables. And that is what we want to do, we want to make sure that it is, we are confident that it’s not our water, but we are going to test every customer’s water line and start from ground one.”
Lastly, the water board will confirm lead utility service lines that will be replaced at no expense of the customers. Officials with the Clarksburg Water Board did say confirmed lead customer service lines will be recommended to be replaced at the expense of the customer.
“We have some staff here that have created a mapping system, it’s an interactive mapping system the public will be able to use. And this mapping system will show our entire system throughout the city,” Howe Said. “You can click on a property, and it will show you the material that is known in our water system. And this is going to be updated weekly.”
How said the mapping system is something his staff is using to analyze the system, giving the public a look at it as well.
Also, officials with the Clarksburg Water Board stated the WV National Guard has been a tremendous help in distributing bottled water and filtration to unknown and lead service line customers as well as the Clarksburg Fire Department.
“We are going to use the National Guard as long as we need to, at least for another week or two. They’ve been a big help and once we get over this initial hurdle, it should go a lot more smoothly,” Howe said.
Also proposed on the Clarksburg City Council agenda is a resolution to consider the authorization and reimbursement of costs to be incurred by the city or the Clarksburg Water Board relating to a water line replacement project. If passed bonds for that line replacement project may be issued by the city in an amount to not exceed $15,000,000.
“The Clarksburg Water Board has all the powers of a regular municipality except for ordinances and selling bonds. So, whenever we go to the bound council, we have the City of Clarksburg issue and help sell our bonds. We are totally responsible for them, and it’s been a practice we’ve done for the last 40 years,” Howe said.
Clarksburg Water Board officials said that when they get more information and more data in, they will know more of what the complete cost will be. Currently, they believe $15,000,000 will cover the cost of replacing the lines.
“Our staff here, we don’t think we have a corrosive water issue. 95% of these tests we’ve taken so far have come back good, below actionable levels” Howe said. “It appears that the EPA has the magic bullet of adding orthophosphate which coats the lines. But it carries a lot of other issues with it. Our water treatment plants throughout the county will have to deal with excess phosphate. As many people may know excess phosphate in water is not a good thing for aquatic life, it lowers dissolved oxygen in rivers and streams. So, we want to take a pragmatic approach to this. We want to get all the facts we can and then make a good decision on what’s the best approach not just throw another chemical in the water.”
In the 1940s and 1950s lead lines were commonly used in residential housing. Clarksburg Water Board officials said that every county seat in the state could have an issue with lead in the water system.