Pratt and Kanawha County officials joined representatives of West Virginia American Water to mark the transfer of the town's failing water system during a "turn-the-valve" ceremony in Hansford Thursday afternoon.
Though the actual water began flowing from West Virginia American Water's new pipeline across the Kanawha River earlier this week, officials literally turned a valve to produce water from a fire hydrant fed by the new line.
Pratt Councilwoman Charlotte Calhoun said she was overcome earlier this week, when she realized the water coming into her home would soon be safe to drink.
"I had to boil three gallons of water at the house," she said. "I don't have to do that again. That's a privilege."
One unidentified woman apparently concurred with Calhoun, calling out from the audience during the ceremony, "We can drink the water! We don't have to boil it any more!"
Pratt voters were nearly unanimous in a June election to sell the system to the private company, with 153 votes and favor and just seven opposed. The water system had been failing for years and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to various agencies.
In June 2012, a test found that haloacetic acids in the water supply were above the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Pratt water system was completed in 1978, and the town's sewage system was finished in 1989. It also serves the unincorporated community of Hansford and areas along Paint Creek Road to the West Virginia Turnpike.
West Virginia American Water paid the town $437,000 for the system and promised an investment of $400,000 in various repairs and upgrades -- something water company officials said was already taking place.
"We started fixing leaks yesterday," West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said.