Charlotte, N.C. - Protesters staged a 'die-in' at the Duke Energy building in uptown Monday. They made reference to what they call a continued conflict of interest between Governor Pat McCrory and Duke. They say that relationship is putting hundreds of homeowners at risk.
We went to where the rubber hits the road in a Belmont neighborhood. More than four hundred families have been living on bottled water for a year because the state said their water wasn't safe. Now, the state has come back to say the same water is ok to drink. But the folks affected aren't buying that.
"Come get your coal ash Kool-Aid!"
Protesters fell to the ground after pretending to drink the 'so called' coal ash Kool-Aid in front of the Duke Energy building in uptown Charlotte.
"Don’t worry; it’s just a little toxic."
This skit was protesters’ way of saying the water coming from wells near the Allen steam station in Belmont is not safe to drink.
"To me this is the time for good people to stand up and show support for our communities that are facing a water crisis," said Nikola Taylor, one of the protesters.
Last year, the state toxicologist sent a letter to more than 400 residents, telling them not to drink the water.
Debra Baker got one of those letters.
"They told me I couldn't ingest, cook, or do anything with the water other than shower, wash clothes, and wash dishes," said Baker.
Now, a year later, the state sent out another letter. It says - after further study - they found the water does in fact meet federal standards for safe drinking water.
A Duke Energy spokesperson reiterated that claim while surrounded by protesters.
"The water quality in those wells is just as good as the water quality across the nation. Time out. We're not going to do this here. We're going to go inside," said Paige Sheehan with Duke.
Away from the throng, Sheehan said the well water is not contaminated by Duke's coal ash, a by-product of the coal-powered electrical plant.
She says, “the facts are a lot of science and engineering has been done to demonstrate, coal ash basins are not impacting neighbor's wells," said Sheehan.
But Debra Baker, who's been living on bottled water courtesy of Duke Energy for the past year, says she won't believe it until she sees it.
"You need to come and retest our water. You need to come and give me peace of mind that it will be completely safe for me and my son, my neighbors, and those who come to my home," said Baker.
Tuesday night, the folks affected by this water controversy will be speaking out before state officials during a public hearing. Neighbors say they've been canvassing the area to make sure there's a big turn-out.
The meeting for the Allen steam station in Gaston County will be held in the Myers auditorium at Gaston College's Dallas campus. The meeting starts at 6pm.