West Virginia American is hardly alone in its noncompliance. An August Gazette-Mail investigation of 265 water utilities around the state that submitted annual reports with usable data found that nearly 65 percent of them were not in compliance with the PSC's standard.
In a letter dated Thursday to PSC Chairman Michael Albert, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre noted that Utility Workers Union of America does not represent the water company's Charleston workers. The union is a "frequent intervener" in proceedings of the commission to advance its own concerns, McIntyre wrote.
"It is unfortunate that another union would attempt to undermine the efforts of our employees by conveying misleading information and making unfounded claims in a letter to the Public Service Commission," he wrote in part.
"In addition, our present staffing levels are near our operational target. Likewise, the present emergency response efforts have no bearing on the quarterly operational reports that the company was directed to submit for the past two years, and which are due to end with the last report for the fourth quarter of 2013."
In August, water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the company had to balance the cost of lost water with the cost of making repairs.
Langford's letter says that Local 537, whose members work in Huntington, has for several years testified about the need for infrastructure upgrades and increased staffing to maintain aging facilities.
"We urge the Commission and other agencies charged with investigating this situation and crafting going-forward recommendations to consider how best to address any deficiencies they find in American Water's physical and human infrastructure," Langford writes.
Langford also sent the letter to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and several other politicians and officials. Tomblin's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Staff writer Caitlin Cook contributed to this report. Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.