Diesel spilled from an overturned truck has entered the drinking water supply of Lewisburg, West Virginia, forcing the city to shut down its water treatment plant.
On Friday night, a tanker truck overturned on West Virginia’s Route 92 and spilled nearly 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into Anthony Creek, a tributary of the Greenbrier river.
According to the city’s public works director, Mark Carver, Lewisburg responded by shutting down its treatment plant and intakes around 2:30 AM on Saturday morning. The city’s 12,000 residents were told to conserve water, but the system’s reserves only lasted until Sunday afternoon.
As of this writing, five schools and an unspecified number of restaurants have been closed down due to lack of water. West Virginia media is reporting that the shutdown is affecting not only Lewisburg but also Ronceverte, Frankford and Renick, all of which draw their water from the same 125 mile pipeline supplied by the Lewisburg Water Treatment Plant.
Emergency services has dispatched tanker trucks to deliver fresh water to the locals. The Guardian reports that two trucks have been set up at the state fair in Fairlea and WVNTV reports that another truck has been sent to Island State Park in Ronceverte; water will be distributed at both locations between 7 AM and 11 PM Eastern Time. Residents are being told to bring their own containers.
City officials are saying that it could be several days before water service returns to Lewisburg, with Wednesday being the earliest reported estimate.
“Diesel fuel, when it’s that cold, doesn’t resemble diesel fuel sitting on the surface when it’s very warm,” said Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester. “It’s much harder to capture.”