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Experts suggest more testing of W.Va. tap water

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Experts hired by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin have recommended West Virginia conduct a broader sampling program of home tap water to ensure the elimination of MCHM from January’s chemical leak and improve public confidence in the region’s drinking-water supply.

The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project said a program to test water supplies in 720 residences in Charleston and surrounding counties would be large enough results that are “statistically defensible” as a reflection of the quality of water that serves 300,000 residents.

“While collecting and analyzing tap water from all homes is not feasible, sampling a proportion of the residences is feasible and, if done properly, can effectively answer many of the questions,” WVTAP said in a report late last week. “Sampling would result in estimates of the concentrations and the variability that is characteristic of the exposure.”

WVTAP officials said a larger study, proposed as a follow-up effort to a 10-home water-testing plan the group conducted in February, would help find out if any amounts of MCHM or other leaked chemicals remain in the water distribution system or in home plumbing.

The 24-page report says MCHM levels in the regional water have continued to decrease since the leak, and that a remaining source of contamination will be eliminated when West Virginia American Water finishes replacing the filters at its Elk River treatment plant. Laura Jordan, a spokeswoman for the water company, said the last two of 16 filters are being changed this week.

 However, WVTAP said, “It cannot be ruled out that there are reservoirs in the distribution system and in people’s homes…


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