Pocahontas PSD Chooses Wastewater Design For Snowshoe Area
Snowshoe, WV – The 10-year debate over a sewage system for the Snowshoe-area reached a milestone Thursday night, when the Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) board selected a design to submit to the state for approval.
Waste Water Management, Inc. (WWMI) a Fairfax, Virginia company, designed alternatives from which the board selected. All of the system alternatives included a plant on the mountain, to serve Snowshoe and Silver Creek resorts, and a second plant near Linwood to serve the valley area. The three-man PSD board chose a design which is expected to cost $19.4 million.
For the mountain, the board chose to upgrade the existing Snowshoe Village lagoon plant to a sequencing batch reactor plant, at a cost of $7.5 million, and build a pumping system to transport Silver Creek sewage to the plant, at a cost of $767,000. The upgraded plant will have a capacity of 550,000 gallons per day, average flow.
For the valley, the board chose to build a membrane biological reactor plant at Site 7A, located on Hawthorne Loop Road, approximately six-tenths of a mile from Linwood. The MBR plant is expected to cost $6 million and will have a capacity of 300,000 gallons, average daily flow.
The selected system for the mountain is the lowest cost alternative. The selected system for the valley is $700,000 more expensive than the lowest cost alternative. Locating the valley plant at Site 7A and incorporating membrane technology added the additional cost. The membrane system results in very clean effluent and is better suited for high fluctuations in flow, typical of the Snowshoe area.
In February 2009, a previous board voted to build a single, 500,000 gallon plant, designed by Thrasher Engineering, at a cost of $25.5 million. WWMI president David Rigby estimated the Thrasher plant would cost at least $33.4 million.
Environmental groups and the Snowshoe Property Owners Council successfully lobbied the Pocahontas County Commission to install anti-Thrasher plan board members when the opportunity arose, claiming that the design was too expensive and a danger to the environment. In October 2010, a newly constituted board scrapped the Thrasher plan and hired WWMI to design a cheaper, more decentralized system.
The board heard public comments to begin the meeting. Snowshoe Property Owners Council VP Bruce Wessell tells the board they’ve done a good job finding a cheaper, safe alternative.
“I would like to commend you guys on the work that you have done and where you’ve gotten to,” he said. “We want to say that we think that the gentlemen up here, on the board, represent the mandate, that was placed upon you by the county commissioners.”
Elk River resident Tolly Peleuche tells the board to make water quality the primary factor in their decision.
“All I really want to say is – as you vote, I know you’re going to keep in mind, the water quality of the Elk headwaters needs to be a really key factor,” she said.
The board went into executive session for an hour and forty minutes to discuss real estate prices with local landowners. After returning to open session the board voted 2-1 for the Snowshoe Village upgrade and Site 7A alternative. Board member Amon Tracey voted against the new plan. Tracey, who initially opposed the Thrasher plan, due to its high cost, came to support the single-plant design.
Tracey said he voted nay because he thinks the operational costs of a single plant would be less. Snowshoe Mountain chief operations officer Frank DeBerry says he was pleased with the decision.
“Great outcome,” he said. “The district and the community have obviously been working on this for a very, very, very long time and the last two weeks have probably been the most progress I’ve seen in the short year that I’ve been here. Let alone, probably, the 10 years that this has been an issue. But I think they made a good selection. I do hope that they’re able to get the rest of the work done, on what’s a new site, in the time that they’re going to need to get it done. But it’s a good step forward.”
Many Snowshoe residents have stated their gratitude to DeBerry for easing a strained relationship between resort management and mountaintop homeowners. DeBerry, who took his post in February last year, says he’s enjoyed working with the homeowners.
“I know that there’s some been some history of some animosity over issues, but we’ve worked together well since the day I got there and I’ve enjoyed working with all the homeowners I’ve met,” he said. “Yeah, I think it’s a good relationship.”
Board member David Litsey said he wants to negotiate with the West Virginia Public Service Commission to eliminate a mandate to build sewer pipes south of the Route 219/66 intersection, because nobody in that area wants public sewer service. The selected design requires Public Service Commission approval.