Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

In Wake of Elk River Chemical Spill West Virginians Turn to Rainwater Harvesting

In Wake of Elk River Chemical Spill West Virginians Turn to Rainwater Harvesting

By Molly Rusk

Some residents of the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia lost access to clean drinking water on Jan. 9, when a coal-processing facility spilled roughly 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM—a chemical used to treat coal—into the Elk River and surrounding land. The spill affected the water supply for more than 300,000 people.

The quality of the water remains in question, but residents aren't satisfied with a choice between expensive bottled water from the store and possibly polluted water from the tap. Increasingly, they're going for a sustainable and self-sufficient alternative: rainwater harvesting.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

While some rainwater collection systems are large and costly, a recent article by Marcus Constantino in The Charleston Daily Mail showed that a household's water needs can be met with a downspout, a few repurposed 60-gallon pickle barrels and a garden hose:

The recent water woes in the Kanawha Valley have led people like Lori Magana of Charleston, WV, to install rainwater harvesting systems to avoid contact with what they feel is potentially contaminated tap water.

"It's sort of primitive," Magana said. "The rain barrel is hooked up to my downspout and it has a faucet. After many trials, I figured out the best way to take a seven-gallon jug from Walmart and carry it inside."

Magana moves rainwater from a 60-gallon barrel to five large, plastic totes in her kitchen. From there, she boils water in a pot before using it to wash in a battery-powered shower.

Magana is a member of a new Facebook group called Charleston Rain Catchers. Those who are active in the 133-member-strong group share photos of their rainwater harvesting setups and give recommendations on where to find the resources needed to harvest.

It's great to see West Virginians helping each other find a sustainable solution to this environmental disaster.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

Hospital workers evacuate patients from the Feather River Hospital during the Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018 in Paradise, California. People in 128 countries have experienced an increased exposure to wildfires, a new Lancet report finds. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The climate crisis already has a death toll, and it will get worse if we don't act to reduce emissions.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Workers harvest asparagus in a field by the Niederaussem lignite coal power plant in Cologne, Germany. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning are reaching new highs. Henning Kaiser / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the dire threat of climate change Wednesday in a speech on the state of the planet delivered at Columbia University in New York.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The miserable ones: Young broiler chickens at a feeder. The poor treatment of the chickens within its supply chain has made Tyson the target of public campaigns urging the company to make meaningful changes. U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

By David Coman-Hidy

The actions of the U.S. meat industry throughout the pandemic have brought to light the true corruption and waste that are inherent within our food system. Despite a new wave of rising COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently submitted a proposal to further increase "the maximum slaughter line speed by 25 percent," which was already far too fast and highly dangerous. It has been made evident that the industry will exploit its workers and animals all to boost its profit.

Read More Show Less
Altamira, state of Para, north of Brazil on Sept. 1, 2019. Amazon rainforest destruction surged between August 2019 and July 2020, Brazil's space agency reported. Gustavo Basso / NurPhoto via Getty Images

According to Brazil's space agency (Inpe), deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has surged to its highest level since 2008, the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters on February 4, 2020 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

"The state of the planet is broken. Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal."

That's how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres began a Wednesday address at Columbia University, in which he reflected on the past 11 months of extreme weather and challenged world leaders to use the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to construct a better world free from destructive greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less