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Many look to rainwater after W.Va. chemical spill

Charleston Daily Mail photos by Craig Cunningham Habitat for Humanity ReStore employees Harold Kemp and Carmen Stein look over some of the remaining pickle barrels shipped to the store last week. With many looking for ways to avoid tap water, the barrels were selling fast.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Craig Cunningham
Habitat for Humanity ReStore employees Harold Kemp and Carmen Stein look over some of the remaining pickle barrels shipped to the store last week. With many looking for ways to avoid tap water, the barrels were selling fast.

By Marcus Constantino

Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Freedom Industries chemical leak has led many to find creative ways to avoid using tap water.

Most are relying on bottled water, but a growing number of people are looking to the sky for a clean — and free — water source.

Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater in containers, then storing it for later use. The practice is popular among gardeners and in desert areas where water is scarce.

But the recent water woes in the Kanawha Valley have led people like Lori Magana of Charleston to install rainwater harvesting systems to avoid contact with what they feel is potentially contaminated tap water.

“It’s sort of primitive,” Magana said. “The rain barrel is hooked up to my downspout and it has a faucet. After many trials, I figured out the best way to take a seven-gallon jug from Walmart and carry it inside.”

Magana moves rainwater from a 60-gallon barrel to five large, plastic totes in her kitchen. From there, she boils water in a pot before using it to wash in a battery-powered shower.

“It really gives me some peace of mind because I know I’m not inhaling any of the chemicals and I don’t have to worry about if I’m going to have burns on my face,” Magana said. “It gives me 100 percent comfort.”

Magana is a member of a new Facebook group called Charleston Rain Catchers. Those who are active in the 133-member-strong group share photos of their rainwater harvesting setups and give recommendations on where to find the resources needed to harvest.

A tipster posted in the group Monday that the Habitat ReStore at 301 Piedmont Road was getting a shipment of 150 58-gallon used pickle barrels.

Amy McLaughlin, ReStore director, said they were “selling like crazy” — there were only 75 of those barrels left as of Friday afternoon…

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