More than 100 families should soon have access to clean drinking water

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Earlier this month, the FY22 federal budget was approved, which includes $5.23 million for the long-awaited Leatherwood Waterline Extension Project.

It’s a project that has plagued Kanawha County for more than 25 years.

Currently, 25 families in the area are served by a small and aging municipal water system that is struggling to perform its service, while about 100 families use either low-yielding wells or cisterns to collect rainwater.

The families are now connected to the public water supply.

“This would not have been possible without the relentless persistence of Senator Shelley Moore Capito,” said Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission. “She delivered to the people of West Virginia and in this case to the people of the Elk District of Kanawha County. After many years and a second day of convention, I am grateful and humbled to be a part of this project bringing water to families in the Leatherwood area.”

Senator Capito attended an event in Kanawha County on Friday to announce the project.

“I think some people don’t believe it’s still happening,” she said. “We have just handed over the bipartisan infrastructure package, a large safe drinking and sewage system. This will get to those projects. There will be more money. We will have more and more of these projects. A lot of our infrastructure is aging, so we need to make sure we modernize and manage that as well.”

The 15.5-mile waterline extension will also benefit fire safety and the safety of people in the area by adding 33 new fire hydrants.

Local residents tell the WSAZ they avoided wearing light-colored clothing for fear of stains. They worry when their laundry starts to smell of the water. They must also ensure that their animals do not drink the well water.

James Newhouse has called the Leatherwood area home all his life. At nearly 73 years old, he has never had access to clean, safe drinking water.

“I don’t usually buy anything white,” he said. “It leaves an odor in them that you then have to overcome with something because you have to come out in public. It is not good.”

They spend hours each month filling large barrels of water and hauling them to their homes. Newhouse looks forward to an improved quality of life and rising property values.

Officials say the project is being developed in partnership with West Virginia American Water and work could begin in 2023.

Copyright 2022 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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