Judge issues decision in Snowshoe wastewater case

Administrative Law Judge Keith A. George, seated center, hears public comments during a Public Service Commission hearing in Marlinton on July 7, 2014.
Administrative Law Judge Keith A. George, seated facing assembly center, hears public comments during a Public Service Commission hearing in Marlinton on July 11, 2014.

An administrative law judge with the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a decision that likely will clear the way for construction of a wastewater treatment system for the Snowshoe and Linwood areas.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Keith A. George issued a recommendation that the Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) be granted a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the project. The final decision rests with the PSC, but the three-member PSC is expected to agree with George’s recommendation.

George presided over a public hearing in the case on July 11 in Marlinton, during which several Snowshoe area residents stated their objections to the project.

In his recommendation, George acknowledged strong opposition to the project.

“Building appropriate sewer treatment in and around Snowshoe Mountain is well over a decade past due,” he wrote. “Delay has occurred over and over again. Each and every project has had serious opposition. It is likely that no project will please every stakeholder. A combination of very litigious parties and political machinations has tied the project up into knots time and time again. Plans have been developed and dropped. Engineers have been hired and fired. Opponents to projects have been appointed to the Utility’s board by the Pocahontas County Commission. Huge amounts of public and private resources have been expended in merely litigating and re-litigating a relatively simple sewage treatment plant. It is time to stop. It is time for a resolution and for construction of a treatment plant.”

George also recommended approval of a rate structure for PSD customers, that would take effect when construction of the new wastewater system is completed. If approved, separate rate schedules for the resort and the valley will be continued. The minimum bill for all PSD customers will be $70.88 per month. A six-bedroom unit at Snowshoe will cost $150.36 per month, and the “small commercial” rate in the valley will be $128.88 per month.

If approved, the $27 million wastewater system will include a membrane biological reactor treatment plant, enclosed in a 15,000 square foot building on a three-acre site along along Cupp Run on Snowshoe Drive. Five existing package wastewater treatment plants will be decommissioned and demolished. The project will serve 2,203 existing customer and 112 new customers.

The PSC is expected to act on George’s recommendation within 90 days.

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