When an $8 million grant is awarded, it’s time for a celebration. That was the feeling last Friday at the Corduroy Inn at Snowshoe, when members and employees of the Pocahontas County Public Service District and Region 4 Planning and Development Committee met to kickoff the Water Capacity Improvement Project.
The project will be the replacement and expansion of the water treatment plant at Snowshoe which is operated by the PSD.
After two years of seeking funding, the PSD received an $8 million grant from the Economic Development Authority. Although more funds are needed, the grant is a big step toward getting the building started.
“When we started this – seeking the funding – we estimated that it would be just north of about ten million dollars,” PSD board member David Dragan said.
The current facility has been in operation for nearly 50 years and is not able to meet the capacity needed by customers.
“It’s approaching fifty years old,” Dragan said. “It’s at capacity. In the winter, on weekends, it’s beyond capacity and that – and the fact it’s not expandable where it is – is the primary reason [for this project].”
The current building will be demolished and the land will revert back to Snowshoe. As for the new facility, it will be built in the what is now a parking lot behind the power station, behind the chapel on Snowshoe Mountain.
“The current plant’s capacity is a thousand gpm – gallons per minute – and it’s going to be increased by fifty percent; fifteen hundred gallons per minute,” Dragan said.
The plant will be manual operation, but with current technology, it will take less manpower to operate, which will free employees up to make upgrades in other areas.
“We have an aging infrastructure on the mountain, as far as water mains to every place,” Dragan said. “As you know, the mountain’s growing, so this should allow us to keep up with it rather than struggling to keep up with it.”
Along with serving Snowshoe Mountain Resort, the plant will also be used by customers in Slaty Fork and up Rt. 219, including several residents of Randolph County.
The design team with E.L. Robertson has drafted a preliminary design of the facility, which is still in the process of being finalized.
“I’ve asked the engineers to try to design a roof that would accept solar panels to make this as green as possible, and to save ratepayers as much as possible,” PSD chair Mark Smith said. “We currently have a rather large power bill for pumping water out of Shavers Lake, up the mountain and then the treatment process of pumping; it’s an expense.”
Once the design is finalized, the project will be put out to bid by spring, with the projected groundbreaking taking place in the summer.
During the brunch celebration, the PSD recognized its employees, as well as members of the Region 4 Planning and Development Committee team who worked on the project. The Region 4 team congratulated the PSD and commended it on taking the initiative to get a new facility for its customers.