LouisvilleWater.com Newsroom


Louisville Water Update on West Virginia Chemical Spill

Wednesday January 15, 2014

First, this incident is not a health concern for Louisville Water Customers.  Louisville Water scientists have worked with the Ohio River Valley Water and Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) since the spill occurred to monitor levels of the chemical MCHM in the Ohio River.

The concentrations have continued to lower as this plume travels down river going from 14 parts per billion (ppb) 30 miles upriver from Cincinnati to 5.4 ppb in Cincinnati this morning.  Louisville Water anticipates this plume would be in the Louisville area Friday morning and the levels will continue to decrease.

Louisville Water customers will not see any changes in the quality of their drinking water nor should they notice any changes in the taste of their drinking water.

Louisville Water can handle this contaminant with two types of treatment.
  • First, Riverbank Filtration at the B.E. Payne Plant.  This first-of-a-kind system in the world uses a tunnel and well system that uses river water naturally filtered in the aquifer as a source for drinking water.  Louisville Water invested in this technology in 2010 to protect the drinking water supply from spills on the river and other potential contaminants.
  • Second, the Crescent Hill Filtration Plant includes one of the most robust filtration systems in the country.  Louisville Water just completed a $90 million upgrade to this plant that includes new filters.  At the Crescent Hill plant, we can handle taste and odor issues with carbon which is used for taste and odor compounds.
For these reasons, Louisville Water will not close its water intakes.  Louisville Water is well equipped to handle treatment issues and in recent history has not closed its intakes for other spills on the Ohio.  Public health is at the core of Louisville Water’s operations.  We have a 150-year history of dealing with the Ohio River and advancing the science of drinking water.  Scientists conduct 200 tests daily on the drinking water supply.

Our scientists sample the Ohio River daily and will sample upriver tomorrow between Louisville and Cincinnati.  We expect the concentrations of this contaminant to be at levels that are easily handled by Louisville Water’s advanced treatment system.