State agencies are nervous about water quality following the disaster on the Elk River last year, and agencies involved in project oversight are ensuring that municipal water systems are “extra safe.” That’s the fallout of a report by Dunn Engineers Vice President Fred Hypes to Marlinton Council Monday night.
“The events of a year ago in Charleston have made the Health Department increasingly uncomfortable with any deviations from the exact letter of their regulations,” said Hypes.
Hypes told Council that the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health (BPH) had recently reviewed Dunn’s plans for an upgraded Marlinton water plant and made no comment. However, following a second review, the BPH insisted that the rebuilt plant include a second clarifier tank.
Hypes said a second clarifier tank will require a water plant building addition and increase the project cost by $650,000. The engineer added that funding agencies will not approve a project that has not received a BPH permit.
“The Health Department is saying that, regardless of their prior approvals, if we turn in a design that does not include a second clarifier, they’re not going to issue a permit,” he said. “The good news is that we have not expended any effort in putting that design in place, that would need to be changed.”
Council unanimously approved an amendment to its contract with Dunn Engineers to add an additional $680,000 to the project cost.
Last summer, Council applied for a Small Cities Block Grant of $1.5 million and a low-interest loan of $2.8 million for the water plant upgrades. In addition, Council applied for a $405,000 loan to pay for design work on the project. Town water rates will increase by seven percent this spring to pay for the design loan. Rates will increase again when construction financing is finalized.
Council will conduct a public hearing and act on the third reading of a bond ordinance and water rate ordinance for the $405,000 design loan during its meeting on February 2.
Herb Barlow reported on the Marlinton Fire Department election of officers: Barlow was elected Fire Chief; J.P. Duncan was elected Assistant Chief; and Jamie Kellison was elected Deputy Chief. Council unanimously ratified the results of the department election.
Barlow, a West Virginia State Police sergeant, said he had been transferred from Richwood to the Marlinton Detachment, which will allow him more time to dedicate to the department. Barlow replaces former Chief Ken Hall, who retired.
Barlow said he would be returning to Council soon to request approval for the Town to fall under a proposed county fire fee.
Mayor Joe Smith said Council’s relationship with the Fire Department had improved.
“Over the last year, I think we’ve developed a better working relationship than what we had there for awhile,” he said.
In other business, Council approved a budget revision to add $270,000 to the town budget from carryover funds.
The next regular Marlinton Council meeting is scheduled for February 2 at 7 p.m.