Al’s Water helping W.Va. residents

The Washington water-hauling company will have five tankers in the Charleston area

January 10, 2014
Tiffanie Withrow, 17, of Paint Creek, W.Va., and Lisa Facemyer, 38, carry a tub full of water to their car at Riverside High School, where a 7,500-gallon tanker truck had been brought in by Al’s Water Hauling Service of Washington. - Craig Cunningham / Charleston Daily Mail

Five tankers from Al’s Water Hauling Service in Canton Township will be stationed in Charleston, W.Va., by today to help provide clean water to residents there after a chemical from an industrial plant spilled into the local water supply.

Pennsylvania American Water contacted the local water-hauling company late Thursday night to assist in bringing in clean water after 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties were put under a state of emergency due to the chemical spill into the Elk River.

Lori Pinkerton of Al’s Water said workers sprang into action immediately after being contacted by PAWC, sending three tankers down Friday, with two more scheduled to arrive this morning. Five employees will remain in the Charleston area until the emergency is resolved as they continue to haul fresh water from unaffected regions.

“Sometimes you do this and you wish you could do a little more,” Pinkerton said. “I know it would be tough up here without water, so it’s good to help them out a little bit down there.”

She had no concerns about the company depleting its equipment or manpower. Pinkerton said she expects the company will continue to assist with the situation as long as needed.

“We have employees staying down there, and they’ll rotate around (the tankers) to get them refilled,” Pinkerton said. “I’ve got a good bunch of guys, and they’re all willing to help. I believe we’ll be fine.”

Some of the tankers were dispatched to Riverside High School in Belle, W.Va., about 11 miles southeast of Charleston. A long line of residents could be seen Friday afternoon waiting with jugs, buckets and even plastic tubs to fill up from the rear of the water tankers.

In all, 17 water tankers from Pennsylvania were sent to the Charleston area, PAWC spokeswoman Josephine Posti said, although Al’s Water Hauling was the most prominent private contractor.

“We, as a company, are providing water tankers and will continue to do so throughout the event, however long it takes them to get back online,” Posti said.

Pennsylvania American Water is the sister company of West Virginia American Water, which serves most of the affected areas. The chemical spill into the Elk River originated from Freedom Industries Thursday morning, and a “do not use” order was issued later that night, leading to a run on bottled water.

Posti said they’ll continue working with their partners in West Virginia to offer any assistance.

“Depending on how this thing is playing out, if they need more resources … we can very quickly deploy water treatment chemicals or bottled water,” Posti said. “Whatever they need us to do.”

She could not speculate on when the emergency would be resolved or what additional equipment would be sent to West Virginia.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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