CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There will be a sold-out event at the state Culture Center in Charleston Tuesday to mark the 10-year anniversary of the 2014 water crisis.

Angie Rosser

On Jan. 9, 2014, a chemical leak was reported in the Elk River that contaminated the drinking water supply of 300,000 residents across nine West Virginia counties.

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition will host the free-ticketed event from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday to shine a light on what happened that day and to discuss the need to protect water sources in the future.

Angie Rosser, president of the coalition, told MetroNews it was a scary time after the spill. People were advised not to shower or drink the water in their homes.

“It was a shock to be without something we take for granted every day, to turn on the tap water will be there, so it was an awakening that we can’t take that for granted,” Rosser said.

Cases of bottled water and gallon water jugs were distributed to residents during a “Do Not Use” order that lasted a couple of weeks.

The leak came from a Freedom Industries above ground storage tank. The mixture flowed downstream to the intake of West Virginia American Water Company’s treatment facility.

Rosser said the event happened during a unique time. It took place as state lawmakers convened for the start of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session at the state Capitol.

“It was the second day of the session, so it was an opportunity for people to see legislative action happen in response to the crisis,” she said.

The old Freedom Industries Tank Farm.

One of those bills that passed the 2014 session was the Above Ground Storage Tank Act.

“That was a major step forward to be able to provide oversight of these chemical storage tanks, especially ones that were located in close proximity to our drinking water supplies,” Rosser said; however, she said concerns remain due to a contraction of tanks.

“Since the law was passed in 2014, many exemptions have occurred since,” she said. “When that law passed, at first it was regulating around 45,000 to 50,000 tanks and today it’s likely around 5,000.”

Rosser said while there have been great strides made by state lawmakers to protect drinking water, more needs to be done to ensure another water crisis doesn’t happen again.

“We’d like to see a lot more money and resources being provided to community water systems, coordination with water utilities, with agencies, with communities, to manage potential sources of contamination,” she said.

Tuesday’s event will include interactive art, music and storytelling to highlight the need for more water protection.

“It’s just an opportunity for people to come together, reflect on 10 years ago, reflect on water issues that still persist today that people are concerned about and how we can still keep working together to make sure that something like 2014 doesn’t happen again,” Rosser said.

To sign up for a waiting list for tickets, visit the West Virginia Rivers Coalition website here.