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Berkeley Co. water project approved

March 12, 1998

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council unanimously approved a $7.2 million water system improvement plan Thursday night that will prevent bacteria from seeping into the city's water and ensure enough capacity for future expansion.

The next step is to get approval from the state Department of Health and Human Services so design of two filtration plants and a storage tank can begin.

The state offers a 20-year loan program at 3 percent interest for drinking water upgrades. City Manager Mark Baldwin said he will also research grant options.

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"We will be working diligently to get grants and low-interest loans ... to keep the impact to the citizens of Martinsburg as low as we can," said Mayor Earnest Sparks.

Martinsburg water customers - who pay $2.60 per 1,000 gallons - will likely see an increase in their water bills.

The recommendation for two filtration plants came after Martinsburg's ground water was deemed under the influence of surface water. Martinsburg water is safe now, but without filtration, bacteria could eventually infect the water supply.

Chester Engineers of Gaithersburg, Md., explained the recommendations to the council Wednesday night, including filtration plants at the Big Springs site and Baltimore and Williams streets site and a 1.5-million-gallon storage tank to replace a 100,000-gallon tank at Red Hill.

If the state approves the plan, design could be complete by Christmas and construction could begin by April 1, 1999. The systems could be operational by fall of that year.

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