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Votes expected on water plans

July 16, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A state agency asked the City of Martinsburg and the Opequon Public Service District on Wednesday to compile a plan for working together to meet the water needs of the city and Berkeley County.

Members of the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council's Consolidation Committee listened Wednesday afternoon at Martinsburg City Hall to presentations about the two groups' project ideas.

Under the city's proposal, water rates would increase from a $11.70 to $18.72 for a customer using 4,500 gallons per month.

Opequon Public Service District attorney Hoy G. Shingleton Jr. said the Public Service District has not done a detailed financial analysis yet, but believes its rates would be about the same for city customers.

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The committee plans to vote on the two plans separately at its next meeting on July 27. The proposals would then go before the full West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council on Aug. 3 for a vote.

The City of Martinsburg wants to build two new filtration plants at the town's springs to meet a state health department order. Cost of the project is estimated at $8.1 million.

The Opequon Public Service District wants to expand its water treatment plant and intake system at the Potomac River to provide water to Martinsburg and other parts of Berkeley County, including the Interstate 81 corridor south of Martinsburg. The cost of Opequon's project is $18.3 million.

City officials touted their plan as necessary to comply with a state health department order to provide filtrated water to city residents. The town's two springs have tested safe, but the filtration systems are required to meet a federal mandate.

The Opequon Public Service District believes its proposal is a better long-term solution that would meet the drinking water needs of Martinsburg and provide service to parts of the county currently without public water, including the Interstate 81 corridor.

"The City of Martinsburg's proposal is good for the next 15 to 20 years, but then what?" Shingleton said.

Charlotte R. Lane, a member of the consolidation committee and chair of the West Virginia Public Service Commission, said residents might be better served if Martinsburg, Opequon, Berkeley County and the other public service districts in the county could merge the two plans.

"I'd prefer not being back here in 15 years dealing with a crisis because we didn't deal with it today," Lane said.

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