Morgantown, W.Va. – As mining companies close and leave Appalachia, water systems
in these company towns are often abandoned. Eight water systems in southern
West Virginia are “intractable,” meaning the systems are no longer maintained and
the water is no longer treated, leaving residents vulnerable. In Garwood
(Wyoming County) water comes from an abandoned coal mine.
Inside Appalachia, a program on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, examined the question, “Is water from an abandoned coal mine fit to drink?” Reporter Anne Li asked Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, to comment on water testing results from coal mine water that feeds into Garwood’s derelict water system.
With the limited data provided, according to Ziemkiewicz, the worst containment in
the water from 2000 to 2008 was coliform. This bacteria can be a sign of sewage
contaminating the water supply. Data from 2008 to 2014 showed no signs of
coliform, but because the water is still untreated, Garwood has been on a boil
water advisory since 2015.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director, West Virginia Water Research Institute
Hear more details on Inside Appalachia’s: “Coal’s Legacy in Appalachia: As Mining Companies Close, Water Systems Fail.” “Mine water as a drinking source” segment starts at 36.05. Ziemkiewicz’s comments at 37:01.
Contact Paul Ziemkiewicz, director, West Virginia Water Research Institute
The West Virginia Water Research Institute, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. WVWRI is the premiere water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader.