RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — On Thursday morning, December 29, 2022, the news from the private Beckley Water Company and the manager of the Raleigh County Public Service District, which buys water from Beckley Water, was not what Raleigh County officials had hoped.

Despite Beckley Water Company sending 30 percent more water to a tank at Fitzpatrick, water levels were still extremely low, leaving seven of Raleigh PSD’s nine tanks dry and 75 percent of its 4,800 customers without reliable service, particularly in communities along West Virginia Route 3.

“You’re looking at 360,000 gallons a minute,” said Raleigh County Commission President David Tolliver. “So where’s the water going to? There’s got to be more leaks, whether it’s from people’s homes that aren’t there, don’t know it’s a leak, or what, so…”

Officials said Sophia residents can expect to see regular service, depending on how quickly Fitzpatrick and other tanks fill, in one to three days.

Those in Trap Hill will get service a few days after Sophia residents, as tanks fill with water in a “chain reaction.”

“You feel sorry for these people, but we’ve been through this before, several times,” noted Tolliver. “When those tanks go dry down Route 3, three days is the best you can do to get them full and to get water to the rest of the areas.”

Crab Orchard residents, who are served by the Fitzpatrick tank, said they had reported low water pressure and silt in water lines since the summer, which led officials to believe there could be an even bigger issue.

But on Thursday, Beckley Water and PSD crews were out repairing leaks as they’re reported.

Raleigh County officials said the public can help restore water service by using as little water as possible and by keeping an eye out for leaks at abandoned properties and neighbors’ houses.

“Check and make sure that their water has been either turned off or if it’s been leaking, notify either the water company or the 911 Center and we can get help,” said Raleigh County Emergency Management Services Director John Zilinski. “We can get it shut off for you.”

Senior citizens and those who are unable to leave their home may call 911 or the Raleigh County Commission on Aging to get free drinking water, Zilinski said.