Tap water is safe to drink in Danville.
"This is a sample taken from the Dan River. This is what the Dan River looks like. This is from my faucet about an hour ago here in Danville. Is this safe to drink?" I asked, showing two water bottles, one that looks black full of water from the river, another full of clear water.
"Yes, it's safe to drink," said Barry Dunkley, the director of the Danville Utilities Water Treatment Plant. And he says he can prove it.
He's seen water quality results from Duke Energy but wanted to see results from an independent source.
He's pleased, and surprised with the results.
"Thank goodness it worked as it's supposed to work," Dunkley said. "The biggest thing that's showing up is iron and manganese which we can handle, no problem."
Environmentalists say coal ash is known to contain trace amounts of heavy metals, and dangerous substances like mercury and arsenic. He says all results came back clean. Dunkley says their water treatment routines haven't changed.
Since Sunday more than 85-thousand tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River from a closed Duke Energy steam station in North Carolina. A spokesperson with says crews are continuing to work to stop the leak.
Dunkley says he happy with the treatment process. It hasn't clogged with coal ash and is producing safe water.
"I expected to have some impact on the chemicals we use or possibly having to use other chemicals and that kind of thing but no we've been able to do it with the chemicals that we have," Dunkley said.
The city's chemist tests the water daily. He looked at what's coming in the plant, and what's coming out.
"The water is very much cleaner today than it was yesterday," said David Styles, a chemist and employee with the Danville Utilities Water Treatment Plant.
Across the street, a shimmer of clearer water. Though some film remains on the Dan River environmentalists say the worst of the spill has moved downstream, or settled on the bottom. Today the water looked more like its old muddy self.
Downstream, Virginia Beach isn't taking any chances. The city has stopped drawing water from Lake Gaston which is fed by the Dan River.
Governor Terry McAuliffe said this today about the spill:
“I am closely monitoring the situation involving the coal ash spill in North Carolina and the potential impact on Virginia. I have directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and the Virginia Department of Health to continue to evaluate the quality and safety of the Dan River’s water supply. I spoke with Governor McCrory this afternoon, who told me that he and his team are working diligently to contain the spill and mitigate its effects, and I also spoke with Mayor Saunders of Danville and Mayor Owens of South Boston. I assured the Governor and the Mayors that Virginia is ready to provide any assistance that may be necessary to protect the quality of the water supply in the areas in both states that could be affected by the spill. At this time the water supply remains safe for human consumption, and we will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses.”