CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Customers of West Virginia American Water affected by the Elk River chemical leak should expect to see a credit on their next water bill, but it won't be for a huge amount, and there probably isn't any other financial help coming behind it.
Bills being sent out Friday will have a credit of $10.29 for residential customers and $20.58 for businesses, West Virginia American President Jeff McIntyre told the House Health Committee Thursday.
That equates to a 1,000-gallon credit for residents and 2,000 gallons for businesses.
Many customers had been upset when the promised credit did not appear in previous bills.
McIntyre blamed his company for that confusion, saying they had wanted to discuss the credit with the Public Service Commission first, but did not communicate that well.
The 1,000-gallon credit is based on the initial home-flushing instructions provided by the water company -- a total of 25 minutes of flushing. The water company has said that would use a maximum of 500 gallons, so it offered a credit of twice that amount.
Spooked by the chemical-licorice odor that has lingered in some cases long after the flushing, many customers have done much more flushing than initially recommended.
Dr. Letitia Tierney, the commissioner of the state Bureau of Public Health, said yesterday customers shouldn't hesitate to do more flushing. "I would encourage them to keep flushing, maybe start the shower, let it run for a few minutes before they get in," Tierney said. But McIntyre said there would likely be no further credit for what he described as "aesthetic issues."
"We think at this time that we've provided an appropriate amount of relief, essentially double what was laid out in the flushing protocol," he said. He said if customers wanted an additional credit, they could try contacting the company through its main toll free number, 1-800-685-8660.
Several members of the committee pressed McIntyre, looking for additional financial help for customers from West Virginia American, or its parent company, American Water.
Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, asked McIntyre to approach American Water to provide financial relief to the region. "I can make that request, but understand that we're a company that's responding to events that we're not responsible for," McIntyre said. "Nobody's asking Freedom [Industries] for this money, probably because they've gone into bankruptcy. Everybody's turning to us."