One O’Toole Resident Rejoices After Living Most of Her Life Without Clean Water

O’TOOLE, W.Va (WOAY) – Carol Thompson has lived in O’Toole, a small community in McDowell County,  for about 40 years. She says she has always had discolored water with a foul smell.

“I don’t know what you could call it. I call it something dead,” Thompson said.

When the McDowell County Public Service District with the help of the county commission and a nonprofit out of Charleston called Keeper of the Mountains allowed her to tap into their water system, she rejoiced.

“It makes me feel good,” she said. “Oh, I can go in there and take a shower anytime and I come out and I can tell I’m clean.”

After Tuesday, now every O’Toole resident can feel the same. For many years, the residents have been using the old coal company water system that has not been maintained since the coal company pulled out. In order for PSD to step in with their waterlines, they needed enough residents to come forward. 

“We can’t just go in there and take over a system,” PSD General Manager Mavis Brewster said. “We’re a Public Service District but we can only take over systems once they come and ask for help and there is process we have to go through with the Public Service Commission and with the Health Department.”

It costs residents $300 and a security deposit to tap in which is what held Thompson and other residents back, but it became possible when more funding came through. And if you’re wondering what Thompson has been doing about water in the meantime, the answer  lies about 30 minutes up the road at a natural spring. 

“And that was hard, especially in big jugs. But I’m so tickled. I am,” Thompson said. “And we just washed a load of clothes and they smelled better and everything. I don’t have to have no dirty water washing my clothes.”

The water bill for the residents will be about $28 a month.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.