After years of dispute, controversy and litigation, momentum is building toward construction of a Snowshoe-area sewage system.
Earlier this month, Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) contract engineer Waste Water Management, Inc. (WWMI) completed the final engineering plan for a Snowshoe wastewater treatment system. On February 10, the PSD board submitted the plan to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for final approval. The board expects the DEP to issue an approval letter by Monday, which will clear the way for the PSD to apply for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (COCN) from the Public Service Commission (PSC).
After filing the application with the PSC, the PSD is required to publish a legal advertisement announcing the beginning of the 30-day public protest period. During this time, the public may file protests against the project with the PSC. In the event a protest is received, a hearing must be scheduled; otherwise the hearing may be waived.
State law requires the PSC to process COCN cases less than $50 million within 270 days. The estimated project cost for the Snowshoe system is less than $22 million. Funding, in the form of a 40-year loan at zero percent interest, has been tentatively coordinated for the project.
If approved, the wastewater plant will be built on Snowshoe Drive, at a site near Linwood known as Site 7. The plant will be completely enclosed and obscured by landscaping. Snowshoe Mountain Resort donated land for the treatment plant.
The plant design includes membrane biological reactors, a state-of-the-art technology that produces very clean effluent water. The treatment plant will have a capacity of 550,000 gallons per day, average flow, and a maximum capacity of 1.1 million gallons per day. An advanced plastic pipeline will carry the resort’s sewage to the plant at the bottom of the mountain. A flow monitor at the plant will set off an alarm if no flow is detected, and the resort’s wastewater flow will be diverted to an existing three million gallon holding tank.
PSD board member Amon Tracey said experts told him construction could begin in the spring of 2015.
“I asked the question to engineers and attorneys, ‘when do you think we can get a shovel in the dirt?’” said Tracey. “That was my question and this might not be true – but it will be in early 2015. That’s the best I could come up with.”
A project timeline prepared by WWMI shows a construction start date in the fall of 2014 and a completion date in mid-2016. PSD board member David Litsey expressed his opinion that those dates can be met, if no serious protests are filed during the public protest period.