As West Virginia American Water customers are being told their water is safe to use and to flush their water lines, all that water has to go somewhere -- local water treatment plants.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the only sewage treatment plants that had been receiving a high amount of treated water after the "do not use" order was lifted were in Charleston and South Charleston.
The Charleston Sanitary Board operates its water treatment plant in North Charleston. Water treated at the plant is discharged into the Kanawha River.
Charleston Sanitary Board General Manager Larry Roller said the treatment plant appears to have the capacity to handle the water being flushed, though "it's hard to tell when we've had the rains we've had."
Roller said about two-thirds of the sanitary board's system contains "combined sewer overflow" points, like a few hundred other cities in the country. That means during a very heavy rain, some diluted sewage and storm water is released into area waterways from 55 outflow points, most of which are located on the Kanawha River.
As far as problems related to the flushing, Roller said about "four or five" incidents of sewer backups were reported Monday because of the large number of customers flushing water lines at the same time. He didn't yet have figures on hand for similar reports on Tuesday.
Roller said he wasn't sure if the chemical that has contaminated West Virginia American Water -- 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM -- is detectable in water entering or leaving the plant. He said normal tests at the treatment plant wouldn't detect the chemical, though the sanitary board is providing samples to the state Department of Environmental Protection for more extensive testing.
"We're sampling the influent and effluent and the DEP is running tests on them," he said, later adding, "They haven't shared with us any of the results."
Roller said samples were taken from the plant Monday. He also said the plant is "well within all permit parameters" for substances for which the treatment plant regularly tests.
He said if anyone has sewer issues, they can call the Charleston Sanitary Board.
"We do respond to all calls," Roller said. "We're here 24 hours a day."