PSD must submit sewage plan by July 2
Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Public Service Commission gave the Pocahontas Public Service District another month to complete an engineering report for a Snowshoe-area sewage system, but the commission will not allow the utility to pay more money to its engineer.
On May 25, the Public Service Commission ordered the PSD to submit a plan that satisfies both the Department of Environmental Protection and the commission’s engineering staff, no later than July 2. In the same order, the Public Service Commission denied a PSD request to pay engineering firm WWMI more money. In May of last year, the commission authorized the PSD to study a decentralized system, but placed a cap of $110,000 on the amount the PSD could pay WWMI.
Since November of last year, when the PSD and WWMI submitted plans for a decentralized, two-plant system, the DEP and Public Service Commission staff have demanded additional details and analysis in WWMI’s plan, requiring additional engineering services. But the Public Service Commission denied payments above the $110,000 cap to meet the July 2 deadline. The Public Service Commission order notes that the PSD pursued a decentralized system in order to save money.
PSD board chairman Tom Shipley is confident that a decentralized system will be approved. Shipley said the PSD and WWMI president David Rigby met with DEP engineer Robert Koontz on May 3, during which many issues were resolved. But the DEP still requires more information from WWMI on calculations for the appropriate size of a Linwood-area plant and an “apples to apples comparison of the decentralized plan to a centralized plan.”
In 2009, Thrasher Engineering, Inc. completed a preliminary design of a centralized wastewater plant near Linwood, that would have collected and treated all sewage from Snowshoe Mountain and the Linwood area. Thrasher estimated the cost of its centralized system at $26 million. Rigby said Thrasher’s cost estimate was incomplete and said Thrasher’s system would actually cost more than $33 million. WWMI estimates the cost of its two-plant system, which would treat Snowshoe waste at a plant on the mountain, at approximately $22 million.
Both the Pocahontas County Commission and the Snowshoe Property Owners Council (SPOC) support WWMI’s decentralized plan. SPOC filed a memorandum with the Public Service Commission on May 11, which states that the decentralized plan has nearly unanimous support from the community; addresses environmental concerns in a safe and cost-effective manner and has interested parties working together collaboratively.
Owners of large land parcels in the Snowshoe area, including Snowshoe Mountain, Inc.; Harvey Galford; Russell Holt; Ike Morris and Ralph Beckwith, continue to oppose the decentralized plan in the ongoing proceedings at the Public Service Commission.