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West Virginia water company to give treatment plant tours

CHARLESTON (AP) — A water company whose Charleston treatment plant was contaminated by a coal-cleaning agent in January is holding public tours next week.

West Virginia American Water Co. will hold the free “WaterFest” event Aug. 9.

Spokeswoman Laura Jordan tells the Charleston Daily Mail it’s the first time the company will hold such an event in Charleston designed to educate the public about the water treatment and distribution process.

It will include plant tours, demonstrations and recreational activities for children. A Charleston fire truck will be set up to enable children to put out a mock fire. There also will be water slides, inflatables, games and face painting.

The January chemical spill from the Freedom Industries plant along the Elk River forced officials to order 300,000 people in nine counties to refrain from using their tap water for most uses for up to 10 days until the chemical was flushed out of the system.

The water company has since replaced each of its 16 filters.

Jordan said the chemical leak “certainly played a role” in prompting water company executives to hold the event, which had been considered in the past.

During the tours, which will begin every 15 minutes, staff will educate the public about plant equipment and the flow of water through the facility. Various pipes, heavy equipment and dump trucks use to repair and maintain the distribution system will be on display.

“We certainly made this a priority this year because of that need to continue educating our customers, for them to interact with our employees and for them to see our faces and the human side of water,” she said.

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