Water entities continue Page-Kincaid negotiations; Residents continue to deal with poor water quality

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – The Public Service Commission in Charleston held a status conference on Tuesday in regards to the Page-Kincaid water issue.

This area in Fayette County has been experiencing foul-smelling and discolored water for about three years.

West Virginia American Water put forward a proposal to take over the Page-Kincaid Public Service District’s system in January, but the entities are still negotiating.

Back in May, the Public Service Commission launched an investigation into Page Kincaid PSD as residents once again began experiencing the dark-colored water.

The purpose of Tuesday’s status hearing was to bring the PSD and West Virginia American Water to the table, so that the Public Service Commission could better understand where the two were at in terms of negotiations.

“Historically, what we have done is really done a good and impressive job,” Page-Kincaid PSD Board Member John David said in the meeting. “And what has happened with the mining is unfortunate. We have asked for the companies to pay back for the violations. We have asked our insurance company to cover violations to pay back people who have some damage incurred and that’s sort of an important component here.”

It seemed like a done deal in January when American Water put forward their proposal until the PSD said American Water would have to take the sewer system too.

This, on top of COVID-19, has since delayed the process.

In the meeting, American Water said that they would be willing to look at the sewer system but would not accept it as a package deal as the investigation and the issues were centered around the water.

Representatives with the PSD spoke out in the meeting to say they are working on making the necessary repairs but that it is difficult with their older systems that have been tarnished by toxins from old mines.

The PSD blamed the water issues on the old system and filters and the recent discoloration on vandalism that was never reported to law enforcement.

While entities battle it out in Charleston, the Fayette County community suffers.

Karen Jeffers’ water that she ran on the same day of the hearing was still a dark yellow color, and it looked similar to what we saw in May when we first visited her.

She had a message for those making the decisions about her community’s water system.

“Tell them to come visit. They want to stay here for a few days and take a bath in that water and drink that water? Have at it. I’ll let them, but I’m not going to,” she said.

Even though Jeffers does not use her water, a recent bill was $100 charging her for 7,000 gallons of usage which is why she has a hard time believing the PSD’s argument that American Water’s bill would be higher.

Just down the road, Dana Shelton feels the same way as she too pays $50 a month for water she does not even trust enough to use in her garden.

“It should be a cut and dry situation,” Shelton said. “We need clean water. Fix it. End of story. I don’t know why somebody would want to continue to give people bad water to drink.”

Patience is running very thin for the residents who are simply asking for a basic necessity as most hope for an American Water takeover.

“I just want a nice life up here in the holler with good, running water, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask for,” Jeffers said.

PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane finished Tuesday’s hearing by saying that the two desperately need to come to an agreement or that she would have the power to intervene. An order on that is expected in the coming weeks.

The Fayette County Commission also recently filed a petition to remove all three members of the Page-Kincaid PSD. That status conference has been set for August 14 where they will discuss further deadlines and trial dates.