Stormwater Creates Major Expense For Pocahontas Sewer Utility

Snowshoe, WV – During its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the Pocahontas Public Service District discussed the problem of stormwater infiltrating into the utility’s sewage system. Repairs will be expensive and the PSD doesn’t have much money, due to payments for engineering and legal services for two new sewage plants.

The PSD is planning to build two new plants to serve the Snowshoe area, at a cost of $19.4 million. But the cost estimate does not include repairs to nearly a mile of unused sewage pipeline at the Hawthorne Village development. A large amount of stormwater infiltrates into the unused pipe and enters a sewage holding tank on Hawthorne Loop Road.

At great expense, the PSD pumps the tank and hauls the stormwater/wastewater mix to the Snowshoe Village sewage plant and incurs additional costs by unnecessarily treating stormwater at the sewage plant. The board discussed the problem with wastewater manager Lloyd Coleman. Board member David Litsey suggests pumping water from the end of the unused pipeline to a drainage ditch.

“Run a pipe from there over to the ditch,” he said. “You can do that, I would guess, for less than $1,000. Now, you’ve got to power it someplace, so you put in a battery that you change, once a week. You can buy a bilge pump that’ll pump 1,200 gallons an hour.”

Coleman said the utility doesn’t have enough money for major pipeline repairs. Litsey says the PSD has enough money for a simple pumping system.

“We have the money to put in the bilge pump and cut off the flow,” he said. “There’s no sewage in it. I think we can just write them a letter and say,’this is what we’re doing.'”

The board directed Colman to investigate Litsey’s proposed idea. The PSD expects to be reimbursed as much as $150,000 for expenditures on the new sewage project, after the project is approved by the Public Service Commission. In the meantime, the PSD is exploring ways to pay for necessary maintenance projects this summer, including work on Hawthorne Loop.

Litsey says the Public Service Commission ordered the board to get a line of credit.

“We’ve been ordered by the Public service Commission to go out and negotiate a line of credit,” he said. “I vaguely recall it was $110,000 for operations.”

Board member Amon Tracey asks Coleman for a cost estimate.

“Lloyd, I think you should give us a figure,” he said. “Don’t let us give you the figure. You give us a figure – what’s it going to cost to do this maintenance this summer. Then, we’ll see if we can come up with the money.”

The board directed Coleman to provide a cost estimate for repairs and directed treasurer Rick Barkley to investigate interest rates for a line of credit at different banks.

During review of the monthly bills, the board determined that a bill from CI Thornburg, for repair to a computer system in the wastewater branch, included more travel time than repair time. The Huntington firm charges $125 per hour for both. The repair bill in question included eight hours of travel and just three hours of actual work. Litsey suggests the board find a firm in Virginia to do the work.

“The Civil War ended several years ago and we can buy things in Virginia,” he said. “I mean, if it’s only two hours away, as opposed to four hours. It’s one thing to charge $50 an hour for transportation and another thing to charge $125.”

The board voted to pay the bill and directed Coleman to investigate different contractors.

In other business, the PSD board:

– heard a presentation from contractor Jacob Meck on his wastewater hauling services;
– agreed to formulate an employee performance review policy;
– reviewed a draft amendment to its grease trap ordinance dealing with motor oil;
– directed board attorney Chris Negley to continue negotiations with Snowshoe Mountain for a sewage hauling agreement;
– and directed Negley to investigate the responsibility for sewage line extensions in the West Ridge development.

The next regular PSD meeting is scheduled for March 27, 7 p.m., location TBA.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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