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After generations of hauling water, a corner of Appalachia still waits for a better future

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In McDowell, estimates suggest that at least a third to half of the roughly 17,600 residents have trouble with their water or sewer systems. For some, wells have become contaminated after gas drilling in the area. A special initiative ultimately will provide clean, safe running water to several hundred homes, but it’s a daunting goal. Solutions are as complex as the systems themselves and will require a combination of money, skill, workers and compassion — all but the last in short supply here.

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