Marlinton Town Council May Fight Tighter Restriction Proposed By WV DEP
Marlinton, WV – The Town of Marlinton may take steps next week to fight off tighter restrictions from West Virginia regulators over what its wastewater treatment plant can put into the Greenbrier River.
During his monthly report to Town Council at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Dennis Driscoll says he met this week in White Sulphur Springs with attorneys from Steptoe and Johnson concerning water quality regulations on the Greenbrier River.
The law firm represented three communities on the lower Greenbrier that were fighting state regulations on the amount of phosphorus their sewage plants could put into the river. Phosphorus, which is used in some detergents and cleaners, has been blamed for large blooms of algae on the Greenbrier. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says these algae blooms interfere with recreational use of the river.
Phosphorus is also found in agricultural run-off from fertilizers, but the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has no authority to regulate these sources of phosphorus. What DEP can regulate are sewage facilities that discharge into the river.
Those communities that fought the DEP water quality standards won and were able to get the phosphorus restrictions removed from their discharge permits. Driscoll says he would like to see Marlinton Town Council take similar steps to have the phosphorus standards removed from Marlinton’s discharge permit to avoid having to spend upwards of $1 million on upgrades to its sewage plant to meet those standards.
Steptoe and Johnson is also seeking to represent towns along the Greenbrier during West Virignia’s interim legislative session to lobby against new water quality rules being proposed by the DEP.
“What they’re saying is that the Greenbrier River, being the pristine river that it is, is very, very important and looks like it’s going to the most important river in the state” says Driscoll. “We’re going to have to toe the line, imaginary as it may be, as to what we can put into this river.”
The Mayor says these new standards could mean a complete redesign of the town’s current wastewater treatment system.
“The total dissolved solids that we can put out of our plant will be 500 per million” says Driscoll. “We couldn’t reach 500 per million if we had the most advanced kind of plant in the country. The only plants that can do that are reverse osmosis plants.”
Marlinton Town Council will meet in special session on Wednesday, August 18 to take action on these water quality matters.
In other matters, council heard a report from County Coordinator Jay Miller on the One-Room University collaboration with New River Community and Technical College. Miller says the project would bring college classes to the town of Marlinton through video conferencing technology. These classes could be available as soon as Fall 2011 in the now-vacant second floor of City National Bank.
Council renewed its contract with West Virginia State Police to provide 4-day per week patrols of the town. Council members said they were pleased with the work state police were doing and extended the contract term from three months to six months.
W.D. Smith of Region IV Planning and Development updated council on the project to upgrade the town’s storm-water drainage system. The project is now complete, and some of the Federal stimulus money that remains from the project is being used to purchase equipment to maintain the town’s wastewater and stormwater systems, with approval from the DEP.
Council authorized the Mayor to install a privacy fence along the back of the town garage to improve its appearance from the Greenbrier River Trail.
An ordinance on travel trailers located in the town’s floodplain passed its second reading. Such trailers can be parked on vacant lots for up to 30 days. Those that are converted to permanent dwellings and hooked onto town water and sewer will be assessed fees for town services.
Council also approved the transfer of a right-of-way to the Department of Highways where it widened Route 39 across from Mitchell Chevrolet last summer. The town will receive $1,000 for the right-of-way.
As the meeting wrapped up, councilman Joe Smith offered some special praise to town employee Kevin Malcomb for his work on a ruptured water line. Smith said Malcomb worked after hours on the leak until about 10 p.m., in water that was often waist-deep.
Marlinton Town Council meets in special session Wednesday, August 18 at the municipal building.