MUB Partners With Downstream Strategies for Source Water Protection Planning

By Krista Baker, Monongalia and Preston County Reporter

MORGANTOWN - Most people don't realize that 85 percent of the drinking water that the Morgantown Utility Board provides comes from the Monongahela River. With an incident like the Elk River spill in Southern West Virginia, the MUB is doing what it can to plan and prepare for a similar situation here.

Community members were able to see the complex procedure on Monday that transforms raw water from the Mon River into clean drinking water for their homes.

Emily Vasile smelled chlorine in her water and became concerned because of the recent chemical spill, so she bought a home water test.

"Everything came back normal. Except the water was a little bit hard," said Vasile. "And so I posted about it in the South Park Facebook group and people were interested, so that's when I called and they invited me for a tour."

Using chlorine to treat the water is just one small step to make sure the river water is safe to drink.

The MUB recently hired Downstream Strategies to update and expand the source water protection program it's had in place since 2011. It said this is a precaution after the Elk River spill.

"With the Freedom Industries leak in the Kanawha Valley, there's heightened standard for performance now in source water protection," said Timothy Ball, the General Manager at MUB. "So, we wanted to hire a consultant to help us pursue that higher standard and expand our program so that we can assure our customers that we're doing everything possible to protect the raw water supply."

This protection program involves identifying threats to raw water sources, mapping and monitoring them.

Vasile said knowing how her water is treated makes her confident to call South Park home.

"It's a major factor in helping us decide, is this a place we want to stay? Do we feel safe and confident with the water that we're drinking, and bathing, and washing our dishes in every day? That's why I'm definitely interested and why the tour was really valuable," Vasile said.

MUB is also evaluating a feasible plan to increase the capacity of it's secondary raw water reservoir that comes from Cobun Creek.