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Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water, local organizations take action to help victims
Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water, a bottled water provider that donates 100% of its profits to support America's waterways, announced last week an arrangement with Appalachian Voices and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth for the immediate donation and delivery of 30,000 bottles of Keeper Springs and Nestle Pure Life Purified Water to 13 Kentucky families in Pike County whose well water was contaminated with methane gas.
"Keeper Springs understands that bottled water plays an important role when safe drinking water is unavailable," said Chris Bartle, co-founder of Keeper Springs. "Our involvement with the Upper Watauga Riverkeeper at Appalachian Voices alerted us to this tragedy."
Residents had reported to local authorities in May 2011 that their highly contaminated water burned their skin upon contact and had the ability to catch fire and turn black or orange. After alerting Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and a nearby coal mining company in hopes of resolving the issue, residents are still without a permanent source of clean, safe drinking water.
"Based on my direct, first-hand experience with contamination of water by coal operations, I am deeply worried about the safety of the drinking water of these families," said Ted Withrow, former Big Sandy River Basin coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Water. "I just had to take the bull by the horns and get something done."
"In all my 20 years of working on water quality problems, I have never seen a drinking water well catch on fire and burn continuously for days on end," said Donna Lisenby of Appalachian Voices. "When Ted sent me the link to the WKYT news story, I was stunned beyond belief and realized I had to do something."
The shipment of bottled water arrived to affected Pike County residents Aug. 18. "It's good to know there are still a few people that will help someone (they've) never even met," said recipient Jessica Bevins.