'Money down the drain': WV losing most of water it produces
Only one quarter of the water West Virginia water systems pay to have treated and pumped ever reaches a faucet, according to a Gazette-Mail analysis of the most recent annual reports filed by 305 public, community, municipal and private water systems to the state Public Service Commission.
More than 55 percent of water produced and treated by West Virginia water plants disappears underground, through hundreds of leaky, dilapidated systems that have not been properly maintained or upgraded in years, completely unaccounted for.
Another 19 percent of the water pumped in the state is lost but “accounted for,” through things like main breaks and fire department use, meaning systems know where the water goes, but still do not collect revenue for it.
This is all water that systems pay to treat and pump using revenue from customers’ bills. As unaccounted water is lost underground, it takes with it millions of dollars that could be used for much needed system upgrades to provide safer, more reliable drinking water for thousands of West Virginians.
Most of the drinking water that West Virginians pay to have treated never reaches a faucet. Instead, the water largely leaks out of the state's old pipes, wasting millions in public money, reporter Caity Coyne found after analyzing more than 300 local government reports for the Charleston Gazette-Mail.