There are several reasons why West Virginia ranks among the worst in the Nation for drinking water violations and why it has some of the worst tap water in the US. Let’s explore a few of those reasons now. One of the biggest causes of West Virginia's reputation for having bad tap water was the 2014 Elk River chemical spill at Freedom Industries, which caused 300,000 residents of the state to endure serious contamination. In the Elk River spill, 10,000 gallons of methylcyclohexane methanol leaked directly from an old storage container into the nearby river, causing sickness including vomiting, headache and skin rashes.
Unfortunately, Elk River isn’t the only egregious example of drinking water contamination in West Virginia’s history. Another shocking example was explained in a recent article in US News and World Report. The article says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has demanded public water officials in Clarksburg, West Virginia to come up with a solution to the area’s lead problem after a staggering number of residents fell ill from toxic levels of lead in the water.
Lead isn’t the only alarming contaminant found in West Virginia’s water supply - and that’s because there is no contaminant more alarming than the presence of PFAS or polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment and they don’t break down inside our bodies. In recent years, West Virginia’s department of health was forced to post “Don’t Drink the Water” signs in several of the state’s municipalities because of an overabundance of PFAS in the water supply.
An environmental study found that 36 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have among the least safe drinking water in the US. The study also found that nearly 1 million West Virginia residents were drinking from water systems that were not in compliance with federal “safe drinking water” regulations, during a nearly 3-year period.
For residents of West Virginia, investing in a quality water filtration device will give your family access to clean, quality drinking water, taking the power back into your own hands. Further down we’ll talk more about water filtration and how a water filtration system can provide your family with cleaner, healthier water, but first, let’s talk about how West Virginia’s water supply became so bad in the first place.
How did this happen?
There are a few different factors that combine to create the perfect storm that makes a state’s water quality substandard.
- Deteriorating infrastructure - The first reason deals with the infrastructure of the municipality supplying the water. In a perfect situation, public water pipes would remain in tip-top condition but in the real world, they don’t. Here’s a common example seen in deteriorating pipes: If a water pipe becomes old and starts to leak it can create a vacuum-like situation pulling untreated water in with treated water. When you turn on your faucet, your water would be both treated and untreated.
- Deteriorating infrastructure (part 2) - Another problem with old pipes is that they can seep copper, lead and additional heavy metal impurities - inviting a dangerous and unhealthy cocktail of contaminants into your drinking cup.
- Hazardous runoff - Hazardous tap water is also caused by runoff from farms and manufacturing plants, like car-making plants and coal mining plants. Runoff seeps into our water bodies and then gets into our water supply.
- Adding chlorine - Municipalities often add chlorine to the water supply in order to improve the taste or smell of the water; but it’s not safe.
How can I find out if my home has bad tap water in West Virginia?
Ask your provider.
The first thing you should do is call or email your local water provider and ask them to give you a copy of the most up-to-date water quality report they have. This report will detail the exact tests done to the water in your area with the dates the tests were performed and the results of the tests. The test results will give you insight into what contaminants may have been detected in your water. After that you can decide to have further testing done or you could move forward satisfied with what the report says - either way now you have information about the likely contaminants in your water.
Send samples for testing.
The most thorough testing will occur when you send out a sample of your tap water - this will also give you the most accurate results. You should always send your sample to a certified water-testing lab because they hire experts who will know what to look for. As an example: some chemical contaminants are hard-to-detect and can be overlooked by novice testers. Professional water labs will check for bacteria, chlorine, lead and pesticides as well as any specific contaminants you request.
Test your water at home.
You can also do it yourself and if that’s something you enjoy, there are water testing kits that can be purchased to make that happen. Professional lab testing is the most accurate and thorough way to test water - but with that said, at-home water testing kits can provide you with crucial information on your drinking water.
You can buy a kit online or in your local hardware store. The test strip kit will give you instructions on how to perform a test at home. Here’s an important tip: when testing your water at home, yourself, do it twice. Testing your water two times will ensure that your results are accurate. If you find that impurities are present, consider investing in a good water filtration device. A good water filtration system will help you to eliminate many contaminants and bring your drinking water to its most healthy and pure state. Finding a good, reliable water filtration system may be a daunting task - so let’s talk about the best system available to you.
Invest in The Water Machine.
The Water Machine is the world's first all-glass, gravity-fed countertop water filter. It's design is both functional and stylish, making The Water Machine an eye-pleasing focal point in your kitchen - or wherever you decide to put it. The Water Machine features a sleek hammered-glass design and can filter up to 6,000 gallons of water over a 10-year span (if you consume a gallon-and-a-half of water a day). Water filtered through The Water Machine is crisp and clean without a metallic or plastic aftertaste; it is some of the most delicious and refreshing water you'll ever enjoy. Plus our all-glass design helps reduce plastic waste in the environment. In fact, The Water Machine is committed to environmental causes, with a portion of all of our sales going toward clean water organizations including Water.org, who has given 36-million people worldwide access to clean, uncontaminated water; and Charitywater.org, whose goal is to bring clean drinking water to everyone on the planet. Please visit their websites to see more of the amazing work these organizations do.
The Water Machine eliminates the following contaminants: Bacteria like E. coli, Chlorine, Viruses, Chloramines, Parasites, Fluoride, Heavy Metals, Trihalomethane (THMs), Pharmaceuticals, Petroleum Contaminants, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Radiologicals, Perfluorochemicals (PFOAS), and Herbicides & Pesticides.