Westside of Charleston Plagued by Water inside Natural Gas Lines

by S. Tom Bond on November 21, 2023

Multiple maintenance crews are working overtime to purge out the water

City of Charleston heads into second full week of natural gas restoration efforts

From an Article by Jarett Lewis, WV Metro News, November 21, 2023

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said the city is “keeping its foot on the gas” until every resident on Charleston’s West Side has their gas service restored.

As of Monday evening, at least 825 customers of Mountaineer Gas have had their service turned back on by one of the 51 crews that Mountaineer Gas has working in the area. There has also been countless contractors hired to replace damaged furnaces, stoves and hot water tanks.

“This is not the time to stop doing what we’ve been doing,” Mayor Goodwin said Monday following their City Council meeting. “We need to continue our efforts as it has been since day one.”

Day one was Friday, November 10, when a high-pressure water main break from West Virginia American Water Company punctured a hole in a line from Mountaineer Gas.

The utility said they have approximately 200 holes dug on the West Side and about 80% of the 46 miles that were filled with water drained. Mountaineer Gas Senior Vice President Moses Skaff believes that could become 100% sometime this week, but the real issue now is replacing the appliances in peoples homes that were affected by the water. The company says full restoration of its main line is a few days away.

Hundreds of people are still without gas in a time where colder weather could be rolling in sometime this month, and the Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner.

“Yes it’s Thanksgiving but I don’t care about that. I care that there is a senior in a home that doesn’t have hot water and heat,” said Goodwin.

West Side Council Member Larry Moore is also one without hot water or heat at his residence. He said the city is doing all it can

“I’m going to give a lot of kudos to the gas company and the mayor and the staff of the city because they have been on top of it,” Moore said. Crews that are working long hours to resolve the outage are working ever harder.

“They (Mountaineer Gas) have crews working all hours of the night and first thing in the morning,” said Moore. “They’re doing the best they can and they’ve been very responsive to people’s needs.”

The amount of support coming in from people and organizations who are making donations and delivering food and water and other essentials is no surprise to Moore. “That’s how it is on the West Side. We take care of each other,” he said.

Once every person that’s without gas has their service kicked back on, Mayor Goodwin said the next step will be figuring out how something like this never happens again. She commended the work and communication between each department, city officials, and crews on the scene.

“People’s needs are being met, but the conversation is going to change quickly to ‘how did this happen,’” she said.

West Virginia American Water Company said in a statement last week that it would be premature to blame them for what happened until there’s an investigation done. Area resident Howard Swint spoke at Monday’s council meeting and said the water company is not abiding to water pressure standards.

“I know it’s premature to draw a conclusion as to what happened with the gas crisis, but anything that can push water up pipelines 46 miles is more than likely in excess of industry standard pressure,” Swint said. He has filed a complaint against the water company with the state Public Service Commission.

“We will fully cooperate with the Public Service Commission, local officials, and our community agencies in any investigation to determine a cause,” West Virginia American Water spokesperson Megan Hannah said last week.


PSC launches investigation of water line break, natural gas outage in Charleston From WSAZ News Staff, November 16, 2023

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has launched a general investigation of the water line break and natural gas outage that occurred in Charleston on November 10, 2023.

A natural gas outage on Charleston’s West Side has stretched into a seventh day, prompting a State of Emergency by Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday. Hundreds of families were impacted by the widespread natural gas on the West Side of Charleston.

Also, on or about November 10, 2023, there were several water main breaks on West Virginia-American Water Company (WVAWC) lines in the same area. The water main breaks caused outages for a relatively large number of customers and boil water advisories, officials say.

The investigation order from the PSC states ‘one of the purposes for the Legislature’s creation of the Commission is to provide for the availability of adequate, economical and reliable utility services throughout the State.’

‘The Commission has determined that it should initiate an investigation to determine the cause and/or causes of these specific water main breaks and natural gas outage,” the order states.

The Commission investigation will focus on measures, policies and/or practices that should be implemented or expanded by both utilities to minimize widespread loss of service for customers, both in geographical scope and in the duration, when water line breaks and gas outages occur.

West Virginia-American Water Company and Mountaineer Gas Company are named respondents in the case.

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