Journalism Project Shines Light on Why So Many Lack Water Service in Central Appalachia

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The Lexington Herald-Leader, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Charleston Gazette-Mail began publishing a series yesterday called Stirring the Waters, which explores why so many residents of Central Appalachia lack what many in the rest of America view as a human right: access to clean water.

The series, the result of work from reporters Will Wright, Caity Coyne and Molly Born, is part of a public service program called Report for America, an initiative that deploys emerging journalists into newsrooms around the country to report on under-covered topics and communities. The stories point to a host of problems, including an Eastern Kentucky family of seven using buckets to collect rainwater because their local water system is failing. Below is a compilation of stories and videos from the project along with links to the stories.

Stirring the Waters: Why so many lack access to clean water in Central Appalachia

The United Nations recognizes access to clean water as a human right. Three reporters in Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern West Virginia explore whether people who live there have that right. The lack of clean, reliable drinking water in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia is stirring a public debate over the crisis and prompting calls to fix a long-failing infrastructure.

 

 



Many in Eastern Kentucky can’t count on clean water. Here are 5 ways to fix that.

Reliable access to potable water for drinking and living is not available for many in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Money and a plan could change that. As the Herald-Leader reported this series in recent months, they spoke with dozens of residents, industry experts, state regulators and local officials about how to improve this fundamental, life-sustaining service in Appalachian Kentucky. These are their suggestions.

 

 


‘Tip of the spear.’ As customers beg for clean water, is a crisis looming in Appalachia?

Eastern KY water districts share similar struggles: lack of trust in water quality, broken or cracked service lines and failure to raise rates. The Martin County crisis made news, but what about the rest of Appalachia?

 

 


‘Muddy, nasty water.’ Why these Eastern Kentuckians are afraid to drink from their taps.

Central Appalachia residents say the water in their districts is unsafe, creates health issues and threatens children’s safety. The EPA lists some Eastern Kentucky districts as serious violators of the Safe Water Drinking Act.

 


 

‘Set the buckets out.’ A family of 7 prays for rain as a mountain water system crumbles.

Poor management in Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia mean residents are victims of a water crisis and lack reliable clean water service. One Martin County family collects rainwater in buckets to bathe and wash.

 

 

 


‘I’m scared of it.’ Why this Eastern Kentucky man won’t drink tap water.

 

 
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