Do They Expect Us To Pay For This

Do “they” really expect us to pay for this? My eyes were burning after I took ashower in the “safe” water that we are now enjoying here in Charleston and surrounding unfortunates. This morning I washed my still burning eyes with bottled water.

We are in real trouble. I am not going to shower in this water as long as I can smell it and for sure will not drink this stuff. We can’t or at least shouldn’t bath in or drink the water now coming into our homes and who wants to wash their clothes in that stinky stuff.

Should we be charged for water that is almost useless? We now have two water bills—one for piped in water and one for bottled water.

Charleston has entered into third world status. Other parts of southern West Virginia have been in the third world for a long time with water problems caused by the coal industry’s underground mining and mountains obliterated with strip mining and its grotesque juiced up version called mountain top removal with left over dirt and rocks dumped into the valleys.

Friends and I have done water testing throughout southern West Virginia. We have found readings of 400 to over 1500 on a conductivity scale where anything over 300 is not good for aquatic life.
The Charleston Gazette reported this morning that Senator Joe Manchin and Representatives Capito and Rahall, took pains to distance the chemical that spilled, which is used to process coal, from the state’s coal industry. During a televised press conference, Governor Tomblin fell all over himself trying to disassociate the coal industry from the chemical spill. All these politicians grovel before big coal.

I am mad as hell. After the shower last night that made my eyes burn, I cursed big coal with words that would catch this paper on fire. Big coal destroyed the sight in my fathers left eye and they are destroying the mountains all around our home place at Emmons on Big Coal River and now they are destroying my drinking water.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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