PSC Staff Recommends Repairs to Durbin Water System
Slaty Fork, WV – Public Service Commission Staff in Charleston have recommended that repairs to the Durbin area water system move forward.
The water system that serves Pocahontas County Public Service District customers in Durbin, Frank and Bartow has been plagued by leaks. According to reports from water plant operator Ricky Barkley, the system loses between 40 and 68 percent of the water that’s treated. The culprit is the material that was used to manufacture the water lines that were installed 30 years ago. The polybutylene pipe has become brittle over time, leading to pinholes and perforations in the pipes that bring water to customer’s homes.
The PSD has worked to replace defective lines as they are found, but now it wants to replace all the suspect lines and install monitoring meters in the system to bring the water losses under control.
Beyond the water loss, fixing the system would be required by the PSC, the state Health Department and Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council before the PSD could pursue any further water projects in the county. According to Thrasher Engineering’s Randy Watson, these agencies only allow for a maximum water loss of about 15 percent.
The estimated cost of the project is $593,000, as proposed by Thrasher Engineering. Watson told the PSD during a hearing on the project in February that half the project could be financed with a grant from the IJDC. The other half would be funded by a 0-percent IJDC loan. Paying back that loan would mean a rate increase for Durbin area water customers.
Tom Michael, attorney for the Pocahontas County PSD, told board members on Tuesday that the PSC staff has recommended that the project be approved.
The PSD voted unanimously to agree with the PSC’s recommendations.
The PSD is also working on developing a consistent policy for Mainline Extension Agreements between developers and its sewer utility in the Snowshoe Area. Public Service Commission regulations allow a few different options for utilities to negotiate extensions with developers who build their own collection systems. Michael’s recommendation to the board is to adopt the PSC’s Alternate Mainline Extension Agreement regulations.
In other matters, the PSD voted to hire Mitech, of Elkins, to design a website for the agency, at a cost of $2,500.
The Pocahontas County Public Service District meets again in regular session at 7 p.m. on May 25.