An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — As hundreds of thousands of people in the Kanawha Valley learned all too well in January, water is a precious commodity.
The chemical leak into the Elk River near a water intake for a West Virginia American Water treatment and distribution plant left an estimated 300,000 people without water for several days and left lingering questions about the water’s safety.
But that appears to be a short-term problem. What about people who have no access to public water at all? Extending public water distribution systems into unserved areas is an ongoing need in West Virginia, and efforts to expand service should be pursued whenever possible.
Apparently, the West Virginia Public Service Commission was thinking along those lines when it recently ordered West Virginia American Water to fulfill commitments regarding several water extension projects.
The ruling resulted from a complaint filed by eight public bodies who said West Virginia American Water withdrew from a series of partnerships to extend service into new areas, including one in Putnam County. They said they each received a “decommitment” letter from the water utility company saying, among other things, that it would no longer financially support public/private investments…