West Virginia chemical spill – what now?

I figure I’m doing it right if even one reader cracks a smile at what I offer in the Saturday paper.

And, I had every intention of trying to make you chuckle this time.

For example, I could have written about my attempt to fix a plumbing problem at my house.

My wife sounded the alarm the other day while I was washing a few dishes. After I pulled the plug, I heard her shouting from the basement. I thought “what now?” as I grabbed a flash light and went downstairs.

It turned out that it wasn’t so much a leak that concerned her — it was a waterfall. A section of the PVC pipe that drains our kitchen sink had failed.

The only thing amusing about the situation was when I thought about fixing it myself.

I guess I’ve failed at so many other jobs around the house that my wife didn’t even give me a chance. She called a plumber. The bill wasn’t very funny, but at least water isn’t cascading on the floor anymore.

I could go into greater detail about our water crisis. But suffice to say, I can now trust that when I drain the kitchen sink, the water will flow where it’s supposed to.

That’s more than my mom, my brother and our friends and former neighbors in the Charleston area can say.

Authorities this week began lifting a “do not use” order following the chemical spill that fouled the region’s tap water. But when it comes to regaining public trust in the water system, they have their work cut out for them.

When I talked to my mom this week, she vowed never to use the water again … for anything. My brother tweeted that he’s not comfortable drinking it anymore. Others have posted their fears online, too. Even I thought twice about the water that flows out of the tap in my Martinsburg home and I haven’t lived in Charleston for nearly ten years.

The Charleston Daily Mail reflected the pervasive water worries on its front page. It published a simple picture of a glass of tap water alongside a plastic bottle of water you can find in any convenience store.

The water in both containers looks fine, even refreshing. But the Daily Mail published its picture with the headline, “Which one of these will you drink?

Good question.

It seems the people who live in my old stomping grounds are engaged in a bizarre game of Double-Dog Dare.

There are those who appear to have put their concern aside. Take Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. He told MetroNews this week that he’d been showering throughout the crisis, saying he had “bathed in worse stuff in Vietnam.”

Jones is a military veteran who appears to be doing what political leaders are supposed to do in a crisis, reassuring the public by setting an example.

But as the Daily Mail and other Charleston area news outlets are reporting, bottled water sales remain brisk even as the immediate emergency eases, a clear indication that many don’t trust the water supply.

I can’t say I would, either.

I’m just thankful all I’ve had to worry about this week is scraping up enough money to pay the plumber.

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