"If you're still having a water quality issue, I can definitely put that in the system for you, that's not a problem," the operator said. "As for seeing if you're going to be relieved of any actual charges after that billing cycle, I can't guarantee that. That's going to be your option if you choose not to pay your charges."
At a legislative hearing on Thursday evening, Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American, was asked if the company would be billing for the period since the water was contaminated.
"Have you ever gone to a restaurant and gotten a bad meal and complained about it?" Delegate Larry Faircloth asked McIntyre. "They don't give you a credit, you typically don't have to pay for it. Do you really believe it's fair to bill your customers?"
McIntyre said that the water crisis was the fault of Freedom Industries, the company that leaked the chemical. He said that since West Virginia American had to continue providing water, and the water was in compliance with all regulations, that the company would continue to bill customers.
Laura Jordan, a West Virginia American Water spokeswoman, confirmed on Saturday that the company will continue to bill as normal. She said customers will see the flushing credit on bills that arrive between now and the second week of March.
In an email statement McIntyre said that they were "evaluating the availability of federal and state assistance to address customer concerns.
"We do have a process in place to receive information from customers who want to inform us of losses resulting from the Freedom Industries' chemical spill," McIntyre wrote. "Our customer service center has been taking contact information from these customers."
At the protest Saturday, Sheridan pointed to PSC rules that say water must by "pure, wholesome, potable," and that the company must furnish "safe, adequate and continuous service."
Sheridan contended that the lingering smell in the water and the "do not use" orders issued after the leak violated those rules. He urged others to follow his example and file complaints.
"It's the numbers that will make the difference," he said. "If we stand together, that's how we get heard. An individual complaint is going to do very little."
Christine Lee, who lives on the West Side of Charleston, was at the protest with her three sons, 7-year-old twins and a 9-year-old.
She said she would be filing complaints. She said she shouldn't have to pay her water bill until she got, "clean water and some truth. A nice little combo. Put it on the rocks."
Michael Pushkin, a local musician, performed at the protest, although he said he was tired of writing songs about industrial disasters in West Virginia.
"We got hills and pills and chemical spills," Pushkin sang, "but we ain't going to pay our water bills."
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.