Groups Provide 30,000 Bottles of Water To Kentucky Community with Contaminated Drinking Water

Contact Ted Withrow, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, 606-784-6885
Donna Lisenby, Appalachian Voices, 704-277-6055
Chris Bartle, Keeper Springs, 917-414-9495

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Keeper Springs, Appalachian Voices and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Provide 30, 000 Bottles of Water to Kentucky community with Contaminated Drinking Water

Pike County, Kentucky (August 17, 2011) – Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water is arranging for the immediate donation and delivery of 30, 000 bottles of water-through its partners Appalachian Voices and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC)-to thirteen Kentucky families in Pike County whose well water is contaminated. Earlier this year a well became contaminated with so much methane gas that it caught on fire. Residents say their well water flows black and orange sometimes and other times burns their skin. They reported the problem to government officials in May.

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford inspected the area and told residents that he would do everything he could to get the residents clean, safe drinking water. Prior to notifying Mr. Rutherford, the residents say a nearby coal mining company had offered to install a water filtration system but there has been no follow through.

Four months have gone by and the residents still do not have a permanent source of clean, safe drinking water. Now Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Appalachian Voices are stepping in to provide residents with a tractor-trailer load of bottled water.

KFTC Steering Committee member Ted Withrow got the ball rolling when he learned of the well water contamination problem in late July. Withrow contacted Donna Lisenby, the Director of Water Programs from Appalachian Voices and asked if she could test the well water for contamination. Lisenby not only agreed to test the most impacted wells but also informed Withrow that through a partnership with Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water, she may be able to arrange for a delivery of bottled water to the area. Chris Bartle, the president of Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water was contacted and he immediately got 30, 000 bottles Keeper Springs and Nestle Pure Life Purified Water donated.

“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 Withrow the 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. “When Ted sent me the link to the WKYT news story, I was stunned beyond belief and realized I had to do something. Thankfully Appalachian Voices has a strong partnership with Keeper Springs and we were able to act quickly.”

“Keeper Springs recognizes bottled water plays a needed role when safe drinking water is unavailable, ” said Chris Bartle, who cofounded Keeper Springs with environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “We sought to create a bottled water company that responds to this need, respects the environment, and advocates for clean water. Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water gives 100 percent of its profit back to America’s waterways through the Waterkeeper Alliance and local keepers such as the Upper Watauga Riverkeeper at Appalachian Voices. Supplying a truck load of bottled water to these families in Pike County is a part of our mission because we believe clean, safe water is a basic human right,” continued Bartle.

The tractor trailer load of bottled water will arrive in Pike County on the 18th of August much to the relief of all the families in the community. “You are amazing and I’m so grateful for everything you are doing to help us” said Jessica Bevins who is a recipient of the water. “It’s so good to know there are still a few people like you that will help someone you’ve never even met. I promise you I’ll never forget you for what you’re doing to help me.”

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Appalachian Voices will host a brief press conference at 1:30 pm on August 18, 2011 in Pike County at 2884 Big Branch Road In Pikeville, Kentucky. Members of the news media are encouraged to attend and learn more.


Background Information-News Stories:

1. Water contaminated with methane gas
WKYT News 27, May 23, 2011, Reporter Sean Evans (

It’s something no one should have to deal with, but one Pike County family’s water source has been contaminated with methane gas for months and they want something done about it. The gas content is so high the water is actually flammable.
A water well with methane gas concentration so high it’s literally on fire.
Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford visited the area and said he would do everything in his power to get the problem fixed. Residents say Excel Mining has offered to install a water filtration system as long as they as they sign a waiver and they did not want them going to the media with the problem. As of right now, this is the most extreme example, but others have had water problems in the past.

To read more and view pictures please see:

2. Pike County Family Still Without Clean Water

WKYT News 27, July 28, 2011, Reporter Sean Evans (

Back in May we told you about a Pike County family that can not drink their water because it literally burns! Two months later they still cannot drink their water.

Families along Big Branch rely on well water for their drinking supply.
But for the last two months people like Denise Howard have had to buy water to drink and cook with.
They’re worried, because their families still have to bathe in the water. “You never know what methane in the water is liable to cause. You don’t know what kind of health problems or anything else that they can get from that,” said Kenya Conn.

Some in the area suspect nearby Excel Number Two Mine. “I am not here to place the blame on anyone, however I am asking, if this is not mine related then why is the content of the methane gas so high?” said Carolyn Waugh.

We were out here at the Howard’s a little more than two months ago. Then the flames were just about to the top of the well, now they’re shooting out at least a foot and a half. And they say it isn’t getting any better.
“It sometimes looks like that. This color right here. Yeah, it looks like that most of the time,” said Denise Howard. “Probably thousands, no joke. Because, that’s literally what we have to spend on water, and we don’t have that kind of money,” said Howard. All she and her family want is a new water source. Family members say they will pay to have the Martin County’s water run to their house, a connection only several thousand feet away.

But Mountain Water District officials in Pike County say that could cost between 125 and 150 thousand dollars.”From our existing lines it’s eleven miles to the homes. That’s why we’re looking at going through Martin County, where it’s just a few thousand feet to be able to do that,” said Roy Sawyers with Mountain Water District.

Sawyer says from the day the agreement is made to purchase water from Martin County, it will still take at least three months for the water to be connected.
We attempted to reach Excel Mining, but were unable to get a comment.