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State grant makes dent in sewer needs

September 19, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A $220,000 state grant announced Saturday still leaves the Inwood Watershed project looking for an additional $2.7 million to make flood relief a reality.

The increasing number of new homes and businesses in the Inwood area has created a situation where as little as 2 inches of rain can flood out a stretch of U.S. 11 near Interstate 81, Jim Michael said.

"There's really no place for the water to go," said Michael, chairman of the Eastern Panhandle Soil Conservation District.

A $3 million plan to alleviate the flooding calls for building a system of waterways and channels to run stormwater through the area to nearby creeks, Michael said.

Finding money for the project, however, has been a slow process.

State Del. Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley, and state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, asked for $200,000 in state funds this year to add to the $80,000 that has been acquired from the state over the past three years.

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Attempts to get state budget digest money were unsuccessful, but West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood decided to grant $220,000 for the project, Unger said.

"The Berkeley County Commissioners raised the issue when the governor and his Cabinet were in the Panhandle for their visit," Unger said.

The $300,000 in state funds will be used to try and draw additional funds from federal sources, Michael said.

With money the main obstacle right now, Unger and Michael said time is also an issue.

"Developers want to build homes in the area and this is only going to worsen. Costs (for the project) will only go up," Unger said.

A planned sewer construction project in the area could save time and money for the Inwood Watershed project if the two are done in conjunction, Michael said.

Designs are being done to accommodate both projects, but it is doubtful construction on the watershed will be able to coincide with the start of the sewer, Michael said.

The sewer project was scheduled to begin this year, and it is unlikely the watershed plan will have the $3 million it needs in time, Michael said.

"We're at least a year away," he said.

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