Gary water pickup

Public worker Robert Horne helps carry out bottles of water to residents at the Gary Town Hall, July 24.

GARY — Emergency repairs for the City of Gary’s water system, which suffered a breakdown last July that left hundreds of people without service, was among the projects and entities receiving money Friday from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-WV and Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, stated Friday that $485,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was going into the planning and implementation of infrastructure projects across West Virginia including water and wastewater system improvements.

Gary will receive $150,000 for emergency water system repair, according to the senators’ announcement. The money will help repair a municipal water system that failed during the summer and left hundreds of people and local businesses without water during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Gary’s water service was cut July 21 when a pump broke down. About 560 customers had to seek alternatives such as using water hauled from nearby streams to flush their commodes and getting donated water which was distributed at Gary City Hall and the Rock Hill Baptist Church.

Members of the Gary Volunteer Fire Department helped the community’s residents by delivering water, and the City of Welch Public Works Department and the West Virginia National Guard sent water tankers to help the residents.

Service was restored July 29 when the broken pump was replaced. 

Both Manchin and Capito said that maintaining rural communities’ water infrastructure was important for the state’s economy.

“Infrastructure investments are vital to growing West Virginia’s economy, creating good-paying jobs and ensuring our fellow West Virginians have access to basic human needs such as clean drinking water. I’m pleased ARC is investing in our state and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I will continue to advocate for ARC funding and other programs that prioritize Appalachia and rural America,” Manchin said.

“As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, I have prioritized supporting programs that improve our water and wastewater infrastructure. It is welcome news that ARC is continuing to support important initiatives in West Virginia that strengthen water infrastructure in Gary, Grantsville, and Scott Depot. I look forward to further improving West Virginia’s infrastructure both above and below ground through my committee assignments and relationships with partners like ARC,” said Capito stated.

Other awards included $200,000 to the West Virginia Rural Water Association and $135,000 to the Calhoun County Commission.

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