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Water company must continue reports, PSC rules

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia American Water Co. will have to continue filing quarterly statistical reports with the state Public Service Commission, even though that requirement was supposed to expire at the end of 2013, the PSC ruled Tuesday.

Although the extra reporting has been going on since 2011 and was unrelated to the Elk River chemical leak that contaminated the region's drinking water, the PSC decided to continue the reports to help evaluate the effects of the leak on the water system.

West Virginia American will have to collect the information and file the quarterly reports for another year.

The PSC's Consumer Advocate Division had requested last week that the filing continue.

"The additional metrics filings will allow the commission to monitor whether the WVAWC distribution infrastructure in the Kanawha Valley shows any lasting impact from responding to the chemical spill," the PSC order says.

The chemical leak tainted the drinking water of about 300,000 people.

The extra reporting requirement dates back to a 2011 complaint filed by the Utility Workers Union of America and a local union, alleging that West Virginia American was going to lay off 31 employees, which would compromise its ability to effectively supply water to the region.

The PSC temporarily halted the layoffs and ordered West Virginia American to provide written justification for each position the company sought to eliminate.

The PSC then ordered West Virginia American to cancel most of the layoffs and to collect a variety of statistical information to monitor the quality of its service.

Reviews of those statistics have found that West Virginia American has problems with lost water, valve maintenance and meter testing.

Last week West Virginia American argued, unsuccessfully, that the information it was collecting and reporting was "predominantly unrelated to its response to the chemical spill."

But the PSC thought that information could still be useful.

"Considering the potential strain imposed on the WVAWC distribution system in the Kanawha Valley by recent efforts to combat the chemical spill, the commission concludes that further monitoring is reasonable," the PSC wrote.

West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the company would abide by the PSC's decision.

@tag:Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.

 


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