PSC hears testimony in Snowshoe sewage dispute
Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Public Service Commission held a status conference and hearing for the Snowshoe sewage system dispute on July 13.
During witness testimony, Snowshoe resort president Frank DeBerry told the commission the Pocahontas Public Service District doesn’t want to build a plant big enough for the valley.
“But I truly have come to the conclusion that this District does not want to see a plant that allows for growth.”
In February, the PSD board voted to build a 300,000 gallon per day plant on Hawthorne Loop Road, near Linwood, to serve the valley and a 400,000 gallon per day plant on the mountain to serve Snowshoe.
In May, the Department of Environmental Protection wrote to the PSD board:
“A significant portion of capacity can be allowed for future flows, but the 300,000 gallon Linwood plant is oversized and needs to be reduced.”
On June 12, the PSD board voted to reduce the capacity of the Linwood plant to 150,000 gallons per day and changed its location to a site in Linwood proper. Although conforming to the DEP’s wishes, the PSD changes to the valley sewage plant spurred renewed attacks from the petitioners in the case, which include Snowshoe Mountain Resort and five area landowners.
DeBerry told the Public Service Commission 400,000 gallons is too much for the resort and 150,000 gallons is not enough for the valley.
“The District’s option actually provides more capacity for the mountain than we’ve ever asked for, than we’ve ever wanted, or that I believe we could use for mountaintop capacity.”
“It all comes at the expense of the valley,” DeBerry added.
The resort president cited challenges to further development on the mountain, including the presence of endangered northern flying squirrels and threatened Cheat Mountain salamanders.
The Snowshoe Property Owners Council – SPOC – is at odds with resort management over the sewage issue and has supported PSD plans for separate valley and mountain plants.
During closing arguments at the July 13 hearing, SPOC attorney Joshua Barrett told the commission:
“We know that the proposal includes excess capacity, both on top and at the bottom of the mountain. We know that the proposal provides for expansion for an amount of money that does not seem to be exorbitant. So, our view is the Public Service District has acted reasonably and promoted and propounded a reasonable proposal and we think it should go forward.”
PSC staff attorney John Auville told the commission the PSD plan meets the commission standards.
“There is no need that it be the best project. The testimony you heard today is, from everybody, that this is a reasonable alternative, that it is convenient and necessary, in those terms.”
Snowshoe and the other petitioners are demanding that the matter be placed in control of a court-appointed receiver. Public Service Commissioners Ryan Palmer and Jon McKinney will decide the future of the Snowshoe sewage project. Commissioner Michael Albert recused himself from the case.