UPDATE: Gary, WV water deemed safe to drink

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1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016 UPDATE: 

Concerns over drinking water in the City of Gary, WV are addressed by city leaders.  Testing was completed on the system on Dec. 13, 2016 and preliminary tests showed that the problem has been corrected.  As a result, the advisory issued on Dec. 9 for people to not drink the water has been lifted.  

Officials have said that the water plant operator in Gary will run another test on Wednesday, Dec. 14. 


ORIGINAL STORY: About 500 residents in the Gary area of McDowell County are urged not to drink their water.  On Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, the water looked normal but there’s concern that it could be contaminated after a spill was reported in their water filtration system on Friday, December 9.  

Gary City Mayor Thomas Vineyard along with others at city hall were handing out donated bottles of water for residents on Monday.  Ricky Cleary is one of those residents who is receiving the bottles water.  He was also helping to distribute them.   

“My water is, I mean you can’t tell if it’s got anything in it until they test it,” Cleary said. “They’re pretty good about giving people water when they need it and telling everybody, bringing around letters to tell them what’s going on and stuff.”

Vineyard said Water Plant Operator Harry Parks noticed some discoloration in the water at the Gary City Water Plant this past Friday and then immediately shut it down.  59News was told he then reversed the water flow and pushed whatever it was out.

 As a protocol, they notified the health department.  The health department took samples of the water to see if it’s contaminated or not on Saturday.  They’re waiting for the results but until then, they are taking precautions.    

“We have a slurry pond that was formed back when U.S. Steel was here” Vineyard said. “It’s on the mountain side up on top of the mountain and we’re down on the bottom.  Our water plant is right there so there’s chances of water seeping out of the slurry pond coming through the earth and making it inside our plant.”

Vineyard said they’ve been using a well since the 1970s and it’s never had a problem until now.  He said it takes about three days for the water sample results to come in.

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