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Committee to name water provider

June 29, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A West Virginia agency will decide after a July 16 meeting whether Martinsburg residents will get their water from the City of Martinsburg or the Opequon Public Service District.

The Opequon Public Service District believes it can sell drinking water to the City of Martinsburg cheaper than the city can provide its own, said Opequon Public Service District General Manager Richard Beegle.

The Opequon Public Service District's plan also would make it easier to expand public water lines into parts of the county that need them, Beegle said.

City of Martinsburg Manager Mark S. Baldwin said the city's plan can best serve Martinsburg's needs.

"Martinsburg's not saying this is the answer to Berkeley County's needs. But it's the answer to Martinsburg's and the surrounding area," Baldwin said.

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The Berkeley County Commission on June 25 sent a letter to the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council endorsing the Opequon Public Service District's plan.

Both the city and the Opequon Public Service District sent their proposals to the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council for review.

A committee from the council, which has to approve public projects for state funding, will meet with both sides at 12:30 p.m. July 16 in the Martinsburg City Council chambers.

The Opequon Public Service District proposal would cost $18.3 million, Beegle said. The proposed plan from the city would cost $8.1 million.

The city is under an order from the state to filter the city's water, which comes from two springs. The spring water is chlorinated but is not filtered, Baldwin said.

Martinsburg plans to build two new filtration treatment plants and a new water storage tank.

The Opequon Public Service District gets its water from the Potomac River and has a treatment plant. Under the Opequon plan, the plant would be expanded to a capacity of 8 million gallons per day from the current 4 million gallons. A new transmission line would be built along Interstate 81 and two service connectors with the city added.

That would provide enough water for the city and customers in the Opequon district, Beegle said. There also would be water to provide to southern Berkeley County if needed.

According to figures provided by Beegle, the annual cost of the city buying water from Opequon Public Service District would be $1,173,500, while the city's plan would cost Martinsburg $1,185,100.

Opequon customers are charged $6.03 per 1,000 gallons used for the first 5,000 gallons and $4.53 for each 1,000 gallons over that. There is a minimum charge of $18.09 per month for customers with 5/8 -inch meters.

Beegle said he believes the rate would remain the same for Martinsburg customers if the Opequon plan were approved.

Under the city's plan, the rates would increase for customers to $3.06 per 1,000 gallons for the first 8,330 gallons used per month, $2.50 per 1000 gallons for the next 25,000 gallons and $2.23 per each 1,000 gallons above that.

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