Mayor’s Corner

Sam Felton
Mayor of Marlinton
Three weeks ago the Mayor’s Corner contained information on the topic of Source Water Protection Plan, (SWPP). You may wonder why I’m revisiting the topic. The answer is, I was pleasantly surprised to find out at our required TEAM meeting on March 2 that the first article, and this article, serve as an additional layer of public education and meet the requirements of Senate Bill 373 and Legislative Rule. Therefore, please be advised of the following:
The 2014 Kanawha County chemical spill into the Elk River and the following contamination of the public water system changed everything relating to safeguarding all public water systems within our state. The good that has come of that terrible event is a more concentrated effort of systems monitoring and public awareness.
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), meetings and Homeland Security Initiatives drove all manner of conversation of “what if” scenarios. Included in a recent Pocahontas County OES Grant application is a request for funding of a commodities flow test. The Town of Marlinton TEAM will be very interested in these findings.
As noted in the first article, the Town of Marlinton’s biggest threat could be a tanker overturned in Knapps Creek coming into Marlinton. Shutting the plant down and isolating or diverting any possible contaminant from the intake would be the first step in the event of an emergency. In the event of a Class III, Flammable Liquids Spill, a commonly used method is establishing booms to divert around the intake. This is effective for contaminants that float on the surface of the water. But, “what if” the commodity is unique to these characteristics?
The Town of Marlinton’s contingency planning and feasibility of source water alternatives will document these results. First Responders and the Town of Marlinton would use this additional information in response to an emergency upstream from the intake. The ability to know a particular commodity’s actual flow rate would assist in the prevention of contaminants from entering the water system.
The ultimate goal of contingency planning is to identify and document how the utility will prepare for and respond to any drinking water shortages or emergencies that may occur due to short and/or long water interruption, or incidents of spill or contamination. The Town’s plan is to do everything we can to protect the intake, treatment plant and distribution system from any contamination. The Town of Marlinton is reviewing its ability to use alternative sources, minimize water loss, meet future water demands and operate during power outages.
The amount of time an intake can remain closed depends on the water infrastructure and certain other variables. For instance, even the day of the week would be a factor. One thing is for sure, the longer an intake can remain closed in such a case, the better. Raw and treated water storage capacity in the event of such emergency also becomes extremely important. Storage capacity can directly determine how effectively a water system can respond to a contamination event and how long an intake can remain closed. We are not finished yet. The water storage response capability is still a work in progress.
Statewide initiatives for emergency response, including source water related incidents, are being developed. These include the West Virginia Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WV WARN), wvwarn.org and the Rural Water Association Emergency Response Team, wvrwa.org
On March 8, the Town of Marlinton received a commitment of $1 million from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia Development Office. This was the balance of a $1.5 million Small Cities Block Grant Program application initiated by the previous Marlinton Town Council. More details will follow in next week’s Mayor’s Corner.

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