Current Source Water Protection Efforts

At West Virginia American Water, source water protection is one of several important parts of our overall approach to provide clean, safe water for our customers. We have significant efforts underway to expand this program and surpass regulatory requirements. Below are some highlights and progress updates for these initiatives.

Source Water Protection Plans Submitted to WVDHHR for Review

We have submitted a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) for each of our water systems to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) for review in accordance with state regulations. Links to the public version of each plan are provided below.

Stakeholder engagement is an important part of source water protection planning and we are committed to informing and engaging the public, local governments, local emergency planners, local health departments and area residents throughout the planning and implementation process. We hosted a series of public meetings in March 2016 to share information about the draft SWPPs and provide the opportunity to provide feedback in person and/or in writing. For a copy of the overview presented at the public meetings, click here. WVDHHR is also required to conduct at least one public hearing during the 180-day plan review period. Contact WVDHHR for details regarding when public hearings will be held and how to provide input.

We will also continue to accept comments on an ongoing basis for future plan updates. You may provide input online or by mail to West Virginia American Water, Attn: Source Water Protection Manager, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Charleston, WV 25302.

Bluefield Source Water Protection Plan
    Bluefield WVDHHR Response Addendum
Bluestone Source Water Protection Plan
    Bluestone WVDHHR Response Addendum
Gassaway Source Water Protection Plan
    Gassaway WVDHHR Response Addendum
Huntington Source Water Protection Plan     
   Huntington WVDHHR Response Addendum
Kanawha Valley Source Water Protection Plan
   Kanawha Valley WVDHHR Response Addendum
    Kanawha Valley SWPP Supplement
New River Source Water Protection Plan
   New River WVDHHR Response Addendum
Webster Springs Source Water Protection Plan
   Webster Springs WVDHHR Response Addendum
Weston Source Water Protection Plan
   Weston WVDHHR Response Addendum

Source Water Assessment Updates

We’ve partnered with Corona Environmental Consulting and the Water Research Foundation to pioneer a new and innovative method to compile contaminant source information. This consists of a Geographic Information System (GIS) map-based tool that collects information about potential sources of contamination from various data sources and pulls it into a single contaminant information database for a defined area of concern. The information can be updated on a regular basis to include the latest information available and has dynamic search and reporting capabilities.

We are currently in the process of reviewing all of the information collected for each of our water systems – much of which only became available from the WV Bureau for Public Health in the second half of 2015 once rule-making related to information and submittal requirements was completed by the WV Department of Environmental Protection. A significant amount of data has been identified within the source watersheds so far. We are working to categorize and prioritize these within the zones of critical concern for each of our systems. The next step will be looking for input from stakeholders to identify additional sources based on local knowledge. 

Source Water Monitoring System

We have developed a source water monitoring program that combines continuous water quality indicator monitoring with advanced organics analyses to optimize treatment operations and identify the presence of potential contaminants.

Federal and state regulators, along with industry experts, recently recommended online, multi-panel water quality monitoring devices as an effective option for detection of source water contamination. You can find the WV Department of Health and Human Resources fact sheet on Source Water Contaminant Detection here.  West Virginia American Water conducted a thorough analysis of available technologies based on these recommendations. We have selected and installed monitoring equipment at each of our treatment facility intakes at a cost of approximately $30,000 per facility. These devices are not intended to identify specific contaminants, but rather to alert water systems of a potential change in water quality, spurring further investigative testing.

We are partnering with international experts on an advanced event detection system for the online monitoring equipment that is capable of identifying statistical changes apart from baseline conditions that could indicate the presence of contamination. We are currently in the process of collecting data to understand the 12-month natural and seasonal variability in baseline conditions as a foundation for the event detection system.

West Virginia American Water has also developed internal capability to test for volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds using technologically advanced laboratory equipment. We constructed a $400,000 laboratory at the Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant in 2014 with two gas chromatograph / mass spectrometers and hired a skilled laboratory technician to operate this equipment on a regular basis. Our Kanawha Valley and Huntington facilities are the only water treatment plants in West Virginia with this advanced equipment and testing capability.

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Alternate Water Sources

We commissioned a detailed engineering report to evaluate options for alternate sources of supply including backup intakes, raw water storage tanks and reservoirs, interconnections with other water systems, and groundwater supplies. The report presents the available options for each of our water treatment plants, along with an estimate of the capital investment that would be required to implement each option.

Kanawha River Study

As part of this report, we partnered with Potesta & Associates, Inc. to conduct water and sediment sampling at several locations along the Kanawha River to evaluate its suitability as a secondary source of supply for the Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant. A total of 24 sampling events were conducted from June 2015 to June 2016 with comprehensive laboratory analyses for over 200 different chemicals and indicator parameters. 

Contingency and Communications Plan Updates

Water utilities can develop strategies to understand and manage risks to source water supplies, but no water utility can prevent the occurrence of chemical releases, power outages or natural disasters. That is why it is important to have emergency response plans in order to help facilities respond to a wide variety of potential emergency situations. We have emergency response plans in place, which are protected from public disclosure by bioterrorism laws put in place for the safety and security of water systems nationwide. 

We are updating our existing emergency response plans to address specific requirements in the new regulations related to contingency plans and communications. This includes engaging our facilities and local public health and emergency management agencies to review contingency plans and ensure timely communications to the public in case of emergency.

Our new emergency alert system, CodeRED, is a high-speed mass notification system to keep customers informed about water-related emergencies. Customers currently receive notifications through automated phone calls, and we are expanding our communication capability to include text and e-mail by the end of 2016. Alerts sent through the CodeRED system are available on the “Alert Notifications” page on our website, along with a map of the impacted area. To ensure that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, log on to our web self service portal (www.amwater.com/myh2o) and confirm or update your contact information.