Cincinnati shuts down 2 intake valves to protect drinking water

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19/AP) - Cincinnati shut down two intake valves along the Ohio River on Tuesday evening to protect the city's drinking water from a chemical spill in West Virginia.

On Thursday, a chemical used in coal processing leaked from a plant into the nearby Elk River in Charleston, W.Va. The Elk River feeds into the Ohio River.

Mayor John Cranley announced Monday that the valves will be shut down for at least 20 hours beginning Tuesday night. Cranley says that will allow the water to pass the city without any chemicals entering the drinking supply.

"Clean drinking water is about as high a priority as exists," said Cranley at a press conference on Monday. "We're going to shut it down for double that time, more than double it to make sure that it is totally out of our hair before we put the intake valves back on."

The city plans to use a reserve of 60 hours of treated water, built up specially following the West Virginia spill.

"We expect that this chemical will be through our area in about 24 hours, and that's good news for us because we have about 60 hours of water already in our system," explains Tony Parrot, Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati. "In addition to that, we have supplemental supply in our Bolton facility."

Water Works customers are not expected to see any kind of disruption in service.

(Copyright 2014 FOX19/The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)