The water company sat on Keystone Drive just before Twilight Drive,  from the beginning right up until the 1970s.  It was then moved down river about a mile where it sits today.  There was little room for expansion at the old plant due to the railroad tracks and hillside.  Plus,  by simply building another larger, more modern plant,  there was no water disruption in the changeover.  This old plant's property sat adjoining the Phaff & Smith Cement and Gravel Co.  In the photo at the bottom of the page,  you will see building material stored on the left side today.


For the first 40 years or so of it's existence, the water company was hit or miss.  The water quality at times was so horrible that brown sludge came out of the taps and the system shut down. This was mostly due to low water in the Elk River.  The Sutton Dam would be years away,  and the Elk river, being polluted with waste from people's homes upriver, not to mention industry,  was a cesspool when the river ran low.  This caused many health issues over the years and it was decided  (many times over the years) that SOMETHING had to be done.  The solution was to have more than one intake.  By the early 30s,  TWO new intakes were installed.  One went up the Elk to what was known as "The  Coonskin Pool".  This water was cleaner and deeper than the intake at the water plant.  The other new intake ran all the way from the Slack Street plant, to Capitol Street (and under all of those railroad tracks) to Smith Street to Broad Street and then South to the Kanawha River.  That intake was situated across the Kanawha on the south bank of the river because the engineers felt the south bank was cleaner than the north bank, due to more industry and population on the north bank upriver.


By  1931 the water company had a total of THREE intakes.  One at the plant itself, and two emergency intakes for times of low water.   When the Sutton Dam was built,  there was little need for the two emergency intakes,  and when the new water plant was built in the 70s,  these intakes, along with the old water plant were abandoned.  

During the water crises of 2014,  300,000 people on the WV American Water Company were told that their water was too dangerous to drink due to a leak of MCHM about 3 miles above the plant. This caused people to revert to bottled water for months afterward.  Since there was no longer an emergency intake to the water plant,  there was nothing anyone could do until the chemical had run it's course down the river. In the meantime, the water plant had drawn-in the polluted water, which in turn polluted the plants filters.  It would be 5 months before those filters were changed and people felt safe to drink the water again.  However, as of this writing, many people still refuse to drink the water and may never again.  

WV Water Company

WV Water Company


WV Water Company

Wv Water Company



Next Photo

Back to Index