This week, I want residents to know that the Town continues to move forward – at a snail’s pace – with a combination water, wastewater and storm water project in the downtown area.
I also want newer residents and those business owners making investments in the Town to know that Marlinton has completed a modern state-of-the-art water plant that is about three years old. Now, we are moving forward, updating the water distribution lines and wastewater collection lines. Much of the downtown system is more than 100 years old.
It has served us well.
Now is the time to revitalize for the future.
When the current system was constructed, it was common to use (CSOs) or combined sewer systems. That was in the day when “dilution was the solution to pollution.” In our day, removing storm water entry from the wastewater system is a huge part of correcting the overall cause of Department of Environmental Protection violations.
The idea of combining the projects has cut overall costs by 1/3 of what started out as a $28-million project. The Hazard Mitigation grant of $8.655 million for storm water cut it another third. A phased-in approach may take longer but will be much more economical in the end.
Always remember when telling the story about Marlinton’s sewer treatment issues, it has a lot to do with too much clean water. Literally, high volumes of groundwater in a river-bottom during wet weather, makes the required 85 percent removal of certain containments near impossible for our type system. Also, too much groundwater exceeds our national pollutant discharge elimination system permit (NPDES) during these wet rainy periods. Tackling all three utility features will be the only way the Town will ever become compliant with current and future EPA regulations.
Over the last decade, environmental discharge compliance has become stricter and gained more public awareness. With an emphasis on public safety and compliance, avoiding upsets is vital for cost savings. Maintaining industrial wastewater discharge compliance for storm water is often overlooked but equally critical. The ability to quickly and accurately determine the level of contamination in storm water runoff can greatly reduce the risk of violating discharge permit levels. Using online Total Organic Carbon (TOC) analysis in place of costly and time-consuming BOD and COD tests can help manage the release of storm water to avoid costly fines.
Working to correct these issues takes a village to make such a project come to be. Water and waste-water meetings are discussed separately to cut down on confusion between the two. Separation of storm water, is costly, but not as difficult to manage.
There are usually 15 to 22 persons in attendance at monthly Zoom meetings. Sam Dunn and I attend on the Town side, with representatives from the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council. Though the Town and Region 4 Planning and Development Council will continue to look for every grant dollar possible, IJDC will ultimately be the primary funding source.
The project started with Dunn Engineers as our project Engineer, which has since been bought out by The Thrasher Group. Some of the same people will continue to work on designs under the Thrasher banner. We have two representatives from Jackson Kelly/WDA as our Legal Counsel. White Law Offices acts as the Town Bond Counsel. Spillman, Thomas and Battle serve as Public Service Commission and Local Counsel. Lowe and Associates is the project CPA. Cassie Lawson and Amanda Smarr are primary contacts with Region 4.
The Town’s audits have been completed and are now available on the auditor’s website. Follow-up on Annual Budget and Exhibit submissions are complete. Final details of the Lead Service Line Inventory have been worked out. Loan terms have been provided to Lowe and Associates for rate calculations necessary for ordinances and binding commitment request.
I am holding my breath until we get a rate number back.