Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Archaic water lines installed along U.S. Route 52 in McDowell County prior to World War II will soon be replaced.
“They have been in use since the 1930s,” Mavis Brewster, general manager of the McDowell County Public Service District, said of the water lines serving the Maybeury, Switchback and Elkhorn communities. “All of those (water systems) on 52 were put in by the coal camps. We have people with low pressure, and a lot of water breaks.”
But help is on the way for the impacted communities. The PSD is hoping to go out to bid by this fall on the first phase of the Elkhorn Water Project. The $8 million project also involves the construction of a new 400,000 gallon water storage tank on of Elkhorn Mountain and a new water treatment plant. The first phase of the project will serve approximately 252 customers.
“It will be equipped with a generator so we will be able to supply water during power outages,” Brewster said.
The PSD is working to finalizing easements and right of ways for the project. A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for later this summer. All of the funding necessary for the first phase of the project has been secured.
But the PSD is still seeking 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.”
Brewster said the PSD had originally hoped to construct all four phases of the project with federal stimulus dollars. But the county’s application for federal stimulus funds was rejected, and the project then had to be broken into four different phases.
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