Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 6, 2013

Aging water lines — Elkhorn Water Project vital

A long-awaited project to replace antiquated water lines in McDowell County is finally moving closer to the construction phase. That’s excellent news for families living in the Maybeury, Switchback and Elkhorn communities.

The county’s Public Service District is hoping to take phase one of the Elkhorn Water Project out to bid this fall. The $8 million project involves the construction of a new 400,000-gallon water storage tank on Elkhorn Mountain and a new water treatment plant.

The first phase of the project will serve approximately 252 customers. The new water system also will be equipped with a generator to ensure that water continues to flow during power outages, according to PSD General Manager Mavis Brewster.

The county is still working to finalizing easements and right of ways for the project. Once all of the agreements are signed, a groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled — possibly as early as this summer. All of the funding necessary for the first phase of the project has been secured.

But the PSD is still seeking additional funding for the remaining three phases of the project.

“When all four phases are completed, it will take water service from the Mercer/McDowell county line all the way to Kimball,” Brewster said. “It’s four phases in total. Northfork and Keystone would be in phase two. But we can’t actually come into Northfork and Keystone until we have those new systems in place. In the meantime, the PSD is willing to assist (in Northfork and Keystone) with leak repairs, and have provided them with parts and manpower.”

The PSD had originally hoped to construct all four phases of the project with federal stimulus funds. But the county’s application for federal stimulus funds was rejected, and the project then had to be broken into four different phases.

Considering that many of the water lines scheduled to be replaced pre-date World War II, the need to build this new water system is urgent. A great opportunity to help the area was missed by the Obama administration when this project was not selected for federal stimulus dollars.

Nevertheless, we are pleased to hear that phase one of the new regional water system is finally nearing the construction phase. The actual work will take about a year to complete. In the meantime, we wish the PSD and county officials the best of luck in securing additional funds to complete the remaining three phases.

It is critical that this infrastructure improvement project move forward.

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