Localities take emergency steps to make sure water safe to drink - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Localities take emergency steps to make sure water safe to drink


Local crews are working around the clock monitoring the area water supply after oil spilled into the James River in Lynchburg.

"That's really not good news," said Henrico resident Susan Self who has a plan of her own. "Stick to bottled water for a little while."

Self is not alone.

 "I think I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and buy some bottled water," said Henrico resident Amanda Palmer.

We were allowed exclusive access inside the Henrico Water Treatment plant. We observed some of the emergency operations crews are taking to make sure your drinking water is safe.

"We are going to increase the disinfection levels that we have at our water treatment plant," said Bill Mawyer who is Assistant Director of Henrico Public Utilities.  "We've met with all of our emergency response personnel and the county manager. We are all monitoring the situation and prepared to act if necessary."

Mawyer notes the county has also filled their water storage tanks as a precaution. We are told the 17 tanks hold about 35 million gallons of water. Mawyer says they could serve the county for at least two days in case of an emergency.

"Is the water safe to drink?" we asked Mawyer.

"The water is safe in Henrico County," replied Mawyer.

Richmond made that same declaration in an afternoon news conference. DPU's spokesman Angela Fountain announced the city has released booms on top of the water to skim off any oil coming down the James River. It also activated emergency response teams and is ready to switch the water supply to Tuckahoe Creek, if needed. 

"Chesterfield County has physically isolated its supply of drinking water from Richmond, and will  provide water service to county residents from its two other water sources, Swift Creek Reservoir and Lake Chesdin," said Chris Ruth with Chesterfield County. "Officials do not expect that residents will experience any apparent changes in their water service due to this incident."

Approximately 200,000 Richmond customers are affected by the changes. Approximately 300,000 Henrico customers are affected by the changes. Officials continue to assure residents the water remains safe to drink.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly