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West Virginia families, billed for smelly water they didn’t use, bill water company right back

By George Chidi
Sunday, February 9, 2014 17:42 EDT
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West Virginia water protest
 
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The chemical spill in West Virginia has left thousands of people near Charleston with licorice-scented tap water that they’re afraid to use, despite the assurances of government and their water company.

West Virginia American Water promised customers a credit on their bills for the water homeowners needed to use to flush their pipes of contamination. But when many received their January bills, the credit was no where to be found, ThinkProgress reported. And some bills showed hundreds of gallons of water use that homeowners claimed as impossible even with the flushing, given how circumspect their water use had been since the January 9 contamination of the Elk River with 10,000 gallons of Crude MCHM.

So, about a hundred people marched Saturday to the offices of West Virginia American Water to present the company with invoices for the water they’ve had to buy on the open market, along with their ancillary expenses.

Their invoices leave space to estimate the cost of lost wages and profits from when businesses closed, extra school costs, sewage bills from flushing pipes and the cost of additional taxes they’ll be forced to pay to manage the crisis, the West Virginia Gazette reported. Brooke Drake, of Charleston, told the Gazette that she estimated that the water crisis has cost her $290, mostly in gas and hours lost picking up bottled water.

The water company asked customers to flush their pipes twice last month. During those flushes, customers were asked to leave their water on for 25 minutes, a process that WVAM said should use at most 500 gallons of water. A 1000-gallon credit for homeowners and 2000-gallon credit should have appeared on bills this month, WVAM President Jeff McIntyre told ThinkProgress.

But several people approached ThinkProgress with their bills, showing no credit and inexplicably-increased water usage.

Watch a report about the Saturday march below.

 
 
 
 
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