RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Raleigh County Commission and the county’s emergency management services director declare the county in a state of emergency.

A main water break and at least 45 leaks in the delivery system of the private Beckley Water Company depleted water tank reserves, causing a chain reaction.

In addition, customers dripped their faucets to prevent frozen pipes over the Christmas weekend, making water levels even lower.

County officials announced a plan after they set up a special conference call with county, state and local officials, along with Beckley Water Company, on Wednesday, December 28, 2022.

They urged county residents to avoid getting information from social media and to instead reach out to county officials with questions or reports of leaks.

“If you have any questions on anything concerning this water problem, call 911,” advised Raleigh County Commission President David Tolliver. “Call the EOC, here.”

Some lost water over the weekend, with Ghent residents losing water Tuesday night, followed by Upper Clear Creek on Wednesday morning. Sophia has been without water for about three days, and parts of Boone County have asked Raleigh County to provide water to the Whiteville area.
County officials said the good news is that levels in water tanks increased overnight Tuesday.

But they emphasized that getting normal water levels will take time.

“People had water that the people behind them did not have water,” Raleigh County Emergency Services Director John Zilinski explained. “But now it’s going to be a chain reaction. Because now one tank runs dry, then the next tank runs dry. So filling them up is the same way. You’ve got to get one tank full before you can go to the next one.”

County officials tell residents who don’t have drinking water to visit fire departments. Trap Hill Fire Department has non-potable water, while Sophia and Ghent fire departments offer drinking water, they added.

Those who cannot get out to get drinking water should call 911, and the county will deliver drinking water.

County officials also asked residents to save water by using less for baths and by not letting faucets run.

To conserve water, Beckley Water cut off service to car washes in the area, county officials reported.

Tolliver and Zilinski applauded the private water company’s decision to pause water service to the businesses, while tank levels increase.

Five West Virginia counties, including Raleigh, were in a water crisis on the morning of December 28, 2022, according to West Virginia Emergency Management Division officials.

Tolliver said the county has plans to establish a plant in the Raleigh Public Service District which can pull water from Maple Meadow Mine. Depending on the availability of federal funds, the plant could be active as early as next year.