Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


November 23, 2009

Basic necessity: Water to flow to more Mercer homes

Clean drinking water is something many individuals across our region take for advantage. However, as difficult as it is to believe, there are still families across the rugged mountains of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia who are lacking this very basic necessity of life.

Many of these families are using well water while others are forced to use cistern systems to collect rain water. Still others must haul or buy their water.

Fortunately, two additional water projects now proposed for Mercer County will help more families in need across the region. The first project proposed by the Lashmeet Public Service District will serve 57 families in the Mary Branch community, near Matoaka, who are currently on well water. The project could be expanded to include the Matoaka service area as well, according to officials with the Region One Planning and Development Council.

The project is proposed by the Lashmeet Public Service District in conjunction with the Mercer County Commission and the town of Matoaka. The PSD is now advertising for engineering services to begin a preliminary engineering study for the project.

If residents of Matoaka and the Matoaka Town Council opt to become part of a larger project, the system could be expanded to provide water service to residents in the town. The town is currently experiencing problems with its existing water source, according to Jeff Johnson, community development director for the Region One Planning and Development Council.

The Abandoned Mine Land fund has agreed to fund 63 percent of the project cost. Region One and the Lashmeet PSD are pursuing other funding sources for the project as well, including possible financing through the Infrastructure and Job Development Council and the Small Cities Block Grant fund.

A second new water project would reach more than 60 customers in the Eads Mill and Unity Road sections of Mercer County. It is being developed through the Oakvale Public Service District. The second project is being funded through a $340,000 grant from the West Virginia Waste Coal Producing Counties Grant program.

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