CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At one time, Tyler Mountain Water Co. used filtered tap water among its sources for its bottled water and delivery business -- but not in recent years, according to the companySo when Freedom Industries spilled Crude MCHM into the Elk River on Jan. 9, employees at the company's Poca Distribution Center were affected like everyone else, but Tyler Mountain's water supply was not."We have not bottled in Poca for several years," said company president Richard Merrill.While Tyler Mountain Water Co. used to use filtered water provided by West Virginia American Water Co. in their bottled water production, Merrill said all of Tyler Mountain Water's products are now bottled at plants in other states.Tyler Mountain Water Co. began in 1930 with a single hand-drilled well on Tyler Mountain, on the outskirts of Charleston. Merrill's father bought the company in 1971, at a time when bottled water was not yet cool. Merrill, who took over running the company, soon found a market selling bottled water to the coal industry, which was required by federal law to provide miners with potable water.By the early 1990s, Tyler Mountain Water had outgrown its original home. In 1992, the business moved to the Rock Branch Industrial Park near Poca.Some of the company's water is supplied by a spring near Deep Creek, Maryland. But depending on how the water is packaged and where it's coming from and ending up, Tyler Mountain Water also has bottling plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Merrill said.
"We sell bottled water in every size from eight ounces to five gallons," he said. He said the Poca distribution center employs 46 people, but there is also a warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky.Tyler Mountain Water still supplies water to coal mines, but may be best known for its deliveries of water for commercial water coolers. Merrill said the company delivers within about a 75-mile radius of its distribution centers in Poca and Louisville.Tyler Mountain Water also sells bottled water for retail at stores.Merrill said the water crisis didn't hurt his business. In fact, he's been busy supplying water to those affected by the do-not-use order that kept 300,000 West Virginia American Water users from using their water to cook with, drink or bathe for a week or more.But the chemical spill did mean employees at the Poca facility couldn't wash with or drink West Virginia American Water Co. water, just like everyone else.Merrill had a solution for that. He had a warehouse full of water, and set up five-gallon bottles so employees could wash their hands.Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1215.