August 22, 2014

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Conditions at Parkersburg, Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport, WV
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What West Virginia's "Water Crisis" Has Taught Us

Let the laws-and lawsuits-begin.

Every time we turn on a faucet, we take it for granted it will dispense clean, fresh, safe water.

We learned again recently that's not always the case.

While it had no effects on the Parkersburg area, the chemical spill which left residents of Charleston and the surrounding area without water-in some cases, for more than a week-brought unwanted attention (once again) to West Virginia in national and international news stories.

And perhaps the biggest question to ask is: why, when a chemical leak-not from a manufacturer, but from a storage tank-happened early in the day, did it take nearly eight hours for the public to be notified about it?

While I haven't covered this anywhere near the extent the Charleston media have, it seems the fault to some degree may lie with the water company itself, but the vast majority of it appears to be the fault of the chemical storage company itself.

The positive: the agencies which got together to provide bottled water to people who need it are to be commended, and already have.

The question is: could it happen again, and could it happen here?

The awnser to both is: yes.

West Virginia lawmakers (whose 2014 session was suspended the day after it began because of the water crisis) are already scrambling to make laws in an effort to prevent such a fiasco from happening again.

But change might not result only from new state laws, but from a mass of lawsuits, some of which have already been filed.

Unfortunately, lessons are often learned the hard way.

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