01/17/2014 04:52 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Table Talk: How The West Virginia Water Ban Is Affecting Locals


This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

Topic: West Virginia Chemical Spill And Water Prohibition

Story to read: West Virginians Say Not Having Tap Water For 5 Days Is 'Unsettling'

What to say to your kids: Water is very important for humans, plants and animals to survive. We need it to nourish our bodies, stay clean, cook and even go to the bathroom. But in the state of West Virginia, 300,000 people were advised last Thursday to stop drinking their tap water and using it to bathe. The prohibition was meant to protect them from chemicals that contaminated their water. A facility that stores chemicals used to clean coal leaked into the Elk River -- which was near a water treatment plant.

After a few days, the state started to lift the advisory for some people. But some residents said even after flushing their pipes, they found that the water still looked or smelled bad. They posted pictures of what they discovered online to show that the water may still be unclean.

Tonight, let's talk about why water is so important and what we can do to prevent something like this from happening again.

Questions for discussion:
  • What do you think chemical companies can do to make sure that their facilities and equipment don't leak?
  • If you were told you not to use your water, what kind of problems would that create for you?
  • What sort of information should people have about the chemical plants and storage facilities in their communities?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.



West Virginia Chemical Spill