Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 3, 2014

Fifth phase: Welcomed help for Hurley, Va.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Reclamation fees paid by the coal industry over the years are helping to fund public drinking water for more families in Southwest Virginia. The latest  funding award will specifically allow for the start of construction on phase five of the Hurley Regional Water Project in Buchanan County.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced last week that the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will administer a federal grant totaling $4,750,000 to provide public drinking water to another 267 homes in Hurley, a community affected by past coal mining practices. The project was selected for grant funding under Virginia’s Abandoned Mine Land program.

The Hurley project represents the fifth phase of construction for the extension of public  drinking water into the Hurley community. The project includes the construction of a water storage tank and a pump station. The funds will also pay for the replacement and upgrade of water lines while also providing an opportunity for future extensions.

The funding application for phase five of the Hurley project was submitted by the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors. The project will be administered through the county’s Public Service Authority.

Reclamation fees paid by the coal industry have funded the replacement of more than 8,500 domestic water supplies that were adversely affected by mining that occurred prior to the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. In addition to providing needed public water supplies, McAuliffe said the project also will create a number of construction jobs to help stimulate the local economy.

The phase five funding represents a total of more than $15 million in grant funds provided to date through the Virginia Abandoned Mine Lands program for the Hurley project since 2005, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

All of the AML funds are welcomed, and are helping to make an important difference in the Hurley community.

Gregory McClanahan, executive director of the county’s Public Service Authority, correctly calls the phase five project a “blessing” for families in the Hurley community. We agree. And this project also represents a continuation of the all-important push to get modern infrastructure, including new public drinking water systems, to families who are still in need across our region.

No family should be without a safe and reliable source of public drinking water in the year 2014. That is why it is imperative for all area leaders on the local, state and federal level to fight for modern infrastructure, including public water, sewer and broadband, for those families in the coalfield counties who are still in need.