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Public service districts discuss interconnecting

March 26, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Public service districts discuss interconnecting

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission has agreed to fund a water study to determine how the county's public service districts could interconnect.

"If we did this, we could handle almost any kind of development in the south end of the county," Commission President James Smith said Thursday.

The commission will contribute $5,000 to the study. If the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council approves the project, it will match the commission's contribution.

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The Opequon, Berkeley County and Hedgesville public service districts support the project.

"It's favorable to the community. Every time you duplicate a service it costs more money," said Richard Beegle, general manager of the Opequon Public Service District.

Beegle said the concept project would not be a consolidation. Instead, it would address where the districts would get water for different areas of the county and how they can get it there.

"We do not have to lose our identity to do this," Beegle said. "What we're talking about is how can we obtain the volume of water this county is going to need in the next 20 years. Who sells the water is not an issue."

The commission said the agreement also will include the City of Martinsburg's public service district as soon as a court case is settled.

The City of Martinsburg was given water and service sewer rights for Martin's Landing. The county's public service sewer district and the Opequon Public Service District are fighting for those rights.

The state Public Service Commission ruled in the city's favor in 1997. The other parties have appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Beegle said he could not comment on the lawsuit, but said that involving Martinsburg is a good move for the community.

"I think (the $5,000) is a good investment, but the investment's no good unless it includes all of us," Smith said.

About half of Berkeley County's water customers are served by the City of Martinsburg.

"If we're going to have a countywide concept, it has to include the City of Martinsburg," Smith said. "I don't want to sign my name to anything that leaves out one of the public service districts, especially Martinsburg."

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