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Could a water crisis happen here?

January 17, 2014
The Inter-Mountain

Many local residents have wondered, after last week's shocking water contamination crisis in Charleston, if something similar could happen here.

Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley has an answer for us, though it may not be one we want to hear.

"Yes, it possibly could," Pingley said during Thursday's Elkins City Council meeting.

Elkins Council members were sobered by this statement, but Pingley stressed that any water system is vulnerable.

City officials have done their research about contamination, however, Pingley said.

"We have done vulnerability assessments. We have emergency response plans in place," he said,

The Elkins water system does have one big advantage most systems don't, Pingley said.

"We have the flood control," he said. "If something goes in the river upstream, and we get advance notice, we can close the flood control and it would just flow past us downstream."

Of course that advance notice would be crucial, Pingley said, for the city to be able to utilize the flood-control system in such an emergency.

"Still, we feel we're in a better situation than a lot of towns," Pingley said.

The Elkins flood-control system was completed in 1947. Pingley has said the system is designed to handle four times the amount of water seen in the 1985 flood.

Perhaps this system, nearly 70 years old, will one day protect the area from water contamination. We all hope that day never comes, but at least we have plans and systems already in place for such an event.



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