West Virginia Executive Spring 2017 - Page 35

[ politics ] “The families in Prenter go without what we take for granted every day— clean water.” BRITTANY FURBEE ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS WVU CHAPTER West Virginia’s Rural Water Crisis An hour outside of West Virginia’s state capitol exists a town that has been living without a maintained water supply for more than 10 years. Prenter, located in Boone County, was once a booming coal community with more than 150 thriving residents. Today, the town’s population has dwindled to just 60 people who deal with the daily struggle of not having clean water. A group of students from West Virginia University’s (WVU) chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) traveled to the tiny town over spring break in an attempt to provide relief to its residents. Abandoned by Industry The water system in Prenter was established by what is now known as Honey Island Coal with the intention of serving the town’s mining complex as well as the residents within the community. When the coal company left the area in 2007 and eventually filed for bankruptcy, the abandoned water system quickly fell into disarray. Residents have been under a continuous boil-water advisory order since December 5, 2007, ExEdge and the water system has been unmaintained since. “The citizens of the community have tried the Engineers best they can to at least keep the water flowing Without Borders has undertaken but have faced many obstacles,” says J.D. Douglas, community- district engineering supervisor with the West Virginia driven projects Department of Health and Human Resources in 42 countries (DHHR). “There is no formal city government in with its more than 16,000 this area to protect the water system, so vandals members. have broken into the equipment rooms to steal Source: copper and have destroyed the controls.” www.ewb-usa. According to Douglas, the untreated water, orgfarmwv.org which is pumped through an old natura \[ \Y]\[X[ۈ\]Z\[Y[܈X\XB[\\[[ݘ[܈]\[YX\[\X][HY[]Y[[YK[\[][YH܈ۜ[\[ۋ'H[Z[Y\[[\]]]HZH܈ܘ[Y]\H^x%X[]\8'H^\[H]\K[[\X[˕ՑVPUUKBBH MŒ