PSD Engineer Presents Snowshoe Sewage Alternatives
Snowshoe, WV – In April 2010, engineer David Rigby told the Pocahontas Public Service District board he could design a decentralized Snowshoe-area sewage treatment system much less expensive than Thrasher Engineering’s $25.5 million single-plant design.
Rigby, president of Waste Water Management, Inc., is sticking to his numbers.
During a public meeting at the Linwood Library on January 7, Rigby presented his final design alternatives to the public and the PSD board. The estimated costs for the different alternatives range in cost from $16.6 million to $20.9 million.
In July, Thrasher estimated the cost of its centralized plant on Snowshoe Drive at $25.5 million. Rigby said Thrasher’s cost estimate was incomplete and estimates the cost of Thrasher’s plant at $33.5 million.
Rigby’s first three options call for an upgrade of the Snowshoe Village plant and different alternatives for the valley. Option 1, with a projected cost of $16.6 million, includes a plant behind the Inn at Snowshoe in Linwood. Option 2, with a projected cost of $18.8 million, includes a plant near the intersection of routes 219 and 66, at a site known as the Curtis property. Option 3, with a projected cost of $21.4 million calls for a plant at Site 7, approximately one-half mile north of Linwood on Snowshoe Drive.
Rigby’s fourth and fifth options include a sewage plant in the Silver Creek area to serve the mountaintop resorts, and different plants for the valley. Option 4, at a projected cost of $18.7 million, includes a plant at the Inn at Snowshoe. Option 5, with a projected cost of $20.9 million, includes a plant at the Curtis property.
The sewage system capacity for the valley has been a sticking point for Rigby design opponents, who have argued that a decentralized design provides insufficient capacity for growth in the valley. Board chairman Tom Shipley says he spoke with DEP engineer Robert Koontz to confirm that Rigby’s proposed valley plants would have sufficient capacity.
“I asked him, specifically, if the 300,000 gpd /600,000 gpd plant, designed by WWMI, would meet the state revolving fund requirement for 20-year growth,” he said. “My impression was that we’re making the plant the size that it will need to be in 20 years. We’re not going to wait. He said, ‘yes, that will suffice.'”
Rigby says the operating costs for all alternatives, including Thrasher’s centralized plant, are about the same.
“Surprisingly, when we really looked at the annual operating costs for any of the alternatives, there was very little discrepancy or departure from the high to the low,” he said.
Rigby provided customer rate estimates along with his alternatives, ranging from $78 per month to $87 per month. Rigby estimates the monthly charge with Thrasher’s system at $99 per month.
During a public comment period, several Snowshoe area residents spoke in support of the Rigby alternatives. Snowshoe resident Ira Maupin urges the board to move quickly to submit one of Rigby’s alternatives.
“It’s not just the Thrasher plan and the environmental consequences that can flow out of a five-mile pipeline, down a mountain that steep,” he said. “But it’s a $10 million difference in an option here, and I’m a ratepayer who cares about that $10 million.”
Elk Head Waters Association member Gil Willis reads a letter stating the group’s support of a decentralized design.
“The more appropriate wastewater treatment plant design includes decentralization, in order to treat closer to the source, and therefore require less transport distance and, therefore, less vulnerability to pipe failure and potential pollution entering the cavernous karst waterways,” he said.
The Board will conduct a special meeting on January 9 to discuss real estate issues with landowners near proposed sites. The PSD board will conduct a special meeting later this month to select one of the alternatives to submit to the Public Service Commission for approval.