Page-Kincaid residents protest outside of the PSD demanding clean water

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – They have petitioned, they have given public comment, and now they are standing up in their community demanding action.

Page-Kincaid residents held a roadside protest on Monday as they’ve been dealing with foul-smelling and discolored water for about two to three years.

“We wanted to have a peaceful gathering to show the community and everyone that we need help,” Kincaid resident Tammy Skidmore said.

Their water system is maintained by the Page-Kincaid Public Service District and they have been experiencing inconsistent water quality from a yellowish tint and bleach smell to dark brown and sludgy.

“It looks like brownish,” Gavin, a four-year-old, said.

James Kincaid, a member of the PSD, came out to speak with those standing out front.

He says their $3 million dollar plan to fix the system last year was blocked once the residents turned in a 400-signature petition to the Public Service Commission in Charleston asking for an American Water takeover.

The PSD and American Water have been in legal talks since.

“We have old pipes, old systems that it’s hard every day to make this happen and our guys work hard,” Kincaid said. “I mean, you might hear people say that they don’t anything but they keep the water moving, and they want clean water. And I understand that. I do too. I do too. I’m a user. It’s not like we don’t care.”

Aside from the  fact the people can’t confidently wash their hands, bathe or drink the water, residents worry about the long term health effects.

“My kids, I worry about them,” Skidmore said. “You need to get water for their bodies, for them to grow up and be healthy, and we’re spending so much money buying the water. I mean, they tell us that West Virginia American Water’s rates are going to be too high but really when you take into consideration the amount of jugged water and bottled water that we’re buying every week, I don’t think we’ll see a big difference.”

“And we’re still against paying two-and-a-half million dollars to keep a water company here when there is something else that will cost almost nothing for us to have,” Kincaid resident Benny Miller said. “Almost nothing for West Virginia American water.”

There is a status hearing on Friday at the Fayette County Courthouse in regards to the county commission’s removal of the three members.

To give an update on the current negotiations with the Page-Kincaid PSD and West Virginia American Water, the Public Service Commission in Charleston issued an order for them to come to an agreement.

Now, the PSD and American Water have 30 days to come to an agreement on selling the system.

During the last legislative session, the PSC was granted the power to force a takeover if they can’t on their own. It is called the Distressed and Failing Water and Wastewater Utilities Improvement Act.

“If, after thirty days, that fails, that’s when we will step in and use our new authority under this new legislation to force a takeover by another utility to take over the system,” PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said.

Lane says in all probability it will be West Virginia American Water who will be that other utility.

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Anna Saunders
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.