'No one will declare the water safe' in West Virginia

After achemical spill contaminated the water supply last month, shelves at Krogers remain empty after running out of water in Kanawha City a neighborhood of Charleston, West Virginia.

It’s been a little over a month since a chemical spill in West Virginia left thousands of residents in the Charleston area without water to bathe, drink, or cook with.

"No one will declare the water safe," says Don Tate, who owns and operates a chain of FasChek Supermarkets in the region. "People are still complaining about odors and discoloration of their water."

Gallon jugs of purified water go for about $0.99.

"We are selling a significant amount of water both in the jugs and in the individual half liter," he says. 

Like other residents, Tate uses the gallon jugs to do his cooking, and half liters for drinking water. Tate’s family bought a filter for their home so they can take showers, but he still uses bottled water to brush his teeth.

Tate says it’s not uncommon to see signs in restaurant windows that say "We use bottled water."  He says even the national chains have those signs in their windows.  

"We take for granted our water supply. We think well the sun’s going to come up in the East and the water’s going to be OK."

There’s no word yet about when the water supply will be back to normal.  

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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