CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones will consider a proposal to test the city's water following the Jan. 9 chemical leak that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 state residents, he told finance committee members and attending City Council members Tuesday.
The city should receive a proposal today from an Ohio company outlining how many places should be tested, how it should be implemented and what the water should be tested for, Jones said. No plan has been put in place, but Jones said he wants to test the water in hotels, the Charleston Town Centre and homes in each of the city's 21 wards.
It's not yet known how much the testing would cost the city, Jones said.
"This is not going to be cheap, but I don't know how we can avoid doing this," Jones told council members.
The mayor, who has repeatedly expressed concern for Charleston's image because of the leak, said the city's "brand has been damaged."
Jones said he personally believes the water is safe to use, but recognized not everyone feels that way.
Following Tuesday night's council meeting, Jones said the testing serves a dual purpose: to let those interested in visiting Charleston know what the water's status is and to quell the public's anxiety about its water quality.
"It's not just about Charleston's brand, but that message went out there just to try to tell these hotel operators I'm thinking about them, because they've really been hit hard by this," Jones said. "It's for the public health of this community."
While federal and state officials, along with West Virginia American Water, have said water in the nine-county affected area is usable for more than flushing toilets and fighting fires, many residents aren't convince it's safe for use or consumption.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced earlier this month the state would come up with a plan for testing the region's home plumbing systems for levels of Crude MCHM -- the chemical that leaked into the Elk River in January.
Jones -- a state legislator in the late 1980s -- was critical of state lawmakers' and regulatory agencies' work regarding the environment and public health and safety.
"We thought about environmental issues," Jones said of his time in the Statehouse. "I'm not sure who's doing that up there now. Somebody should have been looking out for us and looking out for those nine counties."
City Council members also heard from Sharie Dale, chairwoman of the Girls On The Run advisory board. Girls On The Run is a nonprofit that promotes getting elementary school-aged girls to exercise and engage in a healthy lifestyle.
In its second year, the group -- which organizes 5K runs with program participants and the community -- has been met with challenges regarding new city policy that would charge organizations $500 to set up races in Charleston. Dale said the charge is unaffordable for small groups.