Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 12, 2013

Increased capacity

Princeton plant expansion a positive

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The Princeton Sanitary Board is preparing to celebrate the completion of a long-awaited $12.1 million sewer plant upgrade for the greater Princeton area. The project is of particular importance because it allows for expansion not only in the city, but also in outlining areas near Princeton. And in order for new economic development and growth to occur in areas such as the U.S. Route 460 corridor, there must be water and sewer infrastructure in place.

The increased volume at the new treatment plant will allow the system to serve more customers, according to Princeton Sanitary Board General Manager Michael Saffel. The plant was previously able to treat 3.6 million gallons of sewage and approximately 9 million gallons of stormwater. With the plant expansion it can now treat 4.9 million gallons of sewage and 15 million gallons of stormwater.

The sewer plant upgrade was funded through two sources. A West Virginia Economic Development Authority grant paid $2.5 million of the project. The other $9 million was secured though the state Revolving Loan Fund at no interest for the next 30 years.

The mulit-million dollar plant upgrade also includes a training center that will serve local sewer plant operators. Mercer County’s smaller communities often cannot afford to send plant operators away for several days of training. The sanitary board’s new facility will allow personnel to get their training locally, Saffel said.

The biggest innovation of the $12.1 million upgrade is a new “treatment tray” that allows the plant to convert sludge into Class A biosolids, he said. This eliminates the possibility of pathogens or bacteria lingering in the material. The resulting product is like the material sold as fertilizer in stores. As a result, there is no sludge-like smell, according to Saffel.

The plant expansion is now essentially finished. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. along with a public tour of the new facility.

It’s no secret that companies are looking to expand, particularly along the busy U.S. Route 460 and Intestate 77 interchange near Princeton. But available space is limited. That’s why future growth is expected to occur just east of Princeton and past the I-77/Route 460 interchange.

 With expanded water service and sewer infrastructure now in place, the region will be in a better position to attract new businesses and industry, including long-requested big box chains such as Target and Home Depot — both of which are still exploring potential sites in the area.

The city of Princeton, and the Princeton Sanitary Board, are to be applauded for making this $12.1 million plant upgrade a reality. It is a critical infrastructure upgrade that will help the greater Princeton area grow. And such growth is not only good for Princeton, but all of Mercer County.