Member Login

Water District to Monitor as Chemical Spill Arrives in Northern Kentucky

UPDATE: The chemical spill from the Elk River in West Virginia is expected to make its way into the Cincinnati area at 9 p.m. when it should arrive at the Richard Miller Treatment Plant. The chemical spill's odor was detected at Maysville at 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to a news release from the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

That odor is similar to that of black licorice, WCPO reports.


A chemical spill in West Virginia's Elk River is prompting action from the Northern Kentucky Water District.

5,000 gallons of a chemical used to process coal leaked into the Elk River, costing hundreds of thousands of people access to clean water.

Ashland and Russell, Kentucky shut down their water systems for a time on Monday as the chemical plume passed through and now water districts in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are preparing for its local arrival.

The chemical release into the Ohio happened five days ago, 265 miles away in the Elk River which flows into the Kanawha River and then the Ohio. The Northern Kentucky Water District reported on its website that it has been working closely with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the Greater Cincinnati Water Works to track the spill.

Water samples are being taken at regular intervals along the Ohio River to help determine when the leading edge of the spill will reach the Cincinnati area. That arrival is expected to be Tuesday evening, depending on river conditions and weather conditions, the Water District reported.

The spill is being diluted as it makes its way down the river, so it will be in much lower concentrations when it arrives, the Water District reported. The District may shut down its Ohio River intakes as a precautionary measure.

“Maintaining the safety of our community’s drinking water is our highest priority,” said Ron Lovan, President & CEO of NKWD. “District staff has been working closely with numerous water professionals and considering necessary precautionary measures and contingencies.”

Photo: Birds lunch at the Ohio River in Covington on Monday/RCN