PSC Gives Conditional Approval Of Rigby Plan For Snowshoe Sewer Plant
Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Public Service Commission has given the Pocahontas County Public Service District permission to pursue a decentralized regional sewer project for the Snowshoe area in a decision handed down Tuesday night. The PSC says it’s reasonable to allow the PSD six months to assess a decentralized plan to address their NPDES [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] violations. However, there are conditions the PSD must meet before going forward.
Late in 2010, the PSD voted to drop the Thrasher Engineering designed centralized sewer plant to be built at Linwood near Snowshoe Mountain Resort. In early 2011, they accepted a decentralized design for a regional sewer plant from engineer David Rigby’s firm, Waste Water Management, Inc. It is for this plan that the PSC has given conditional approval.
The first hurdle for the PSD will be to get written consent from the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection to proceed with the decentralized plan. They have 45 days to get that consent. PSD Chairman Tom Shipley says they’ve already contacted the DEP.
“The consent would be that the DEP believes that working on a decentralized plan is reasonable” says Shipley. “The order just came out so they have to have time to digest. I spoke with Scott Mandirola, the head of the water and wastewater division of the DEP [and] our PSD met with almost the entire DEP a few weeks ago.”
“My hope is that having been through a serious discussion with this agency that they understand that we do have a handle on the facts and we are committed to moving forward quickly.”
Once the PSD has the DEP approval, they can move forward with Phase I of the engineering agreement between them and WWMI.
“The Phase I of the engineering agreement is for the engineer to create a plan which includes options for us to actually take a vote on” says Shipley. “That would include a preliminary engineering report that would review options and that would be sent to the DEP; it would also include work on a facilities plan which is basically a fancy name for an application for approval to the Public Service Commission.”
Another PSC condition for this project is an official comparison of the WWMI decentralized construction costs vs. the costs for the centralized Linwood plant project and a comparison of the annual operating costs of the two designs. WWMI President David Rigby says he can build the project for $14 million dollars as opposed to $25 million for the Linwood design. WWMI must also demonstrate that their design can reasonably meet the current and future needs of both the mountain and valley communities under the same terms and conditions they would receive under the centralized regional plant proposal.
While feeling a sense of relief about the PSC’s decision, Shipley is fully cognizant that there is a great deal of work yet to be done.
“This is a serious project and there’s a lot of serious and important decisions that have to have been made and there will be more in the future” he says. “I can only speak for myself, but, I’ve tried to be very careful and considerate of everyone’s views and needs. I believe that you will see progress and hope for our community and for dealing with this important issue.”
The PSD and WWMI have six months to complete and submit the Phase I engineering services to the West Virginia Public Service Commission and the Dept of Environmental Protection for approval.