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Water upgrade planned in West Virginia

August 28, 2000

Water upgrade planned in West Virginia



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown officials will soon take action to begin solving the dirty water problems that forced town residents to boil their water for six days earlier this month.

That action could cost upwards of $75,000, officials said.

At a meeting last week, members of the Town Council, water board and the mayor agreed to prepare a short-term plan of action for the state by Sept. 8, said Mike Mower, senior district engineer for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health.

The city agreed to have another plan of action by Oct. 8 to meet federal clean water standards that go into effect at the end of 2003.

"It was a very positive meeting," Mower said. "We were pleased with the results and their willingness to address the needs both long term and short term."

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The council voted to contract with a Martinsburg engineering firm to help the town develop the plans.

"As we're going along, we need to try to do things in the short term that will work for the long term," said Mayor Jim Auxer. "I don't want to spend the money now and use it as a Band-Aid and find out it's not what we need later - like putting a roof on your house and finding out it won't work for the kind of roof you need when you put on an addition."

Mower told town leaders the water filters at the treatment plant need to be rebuilt or replaced. Equipment at the plant, such as that which mixes the chemicals to bind together particles of mud, also needs work, he said.

The city has agreed to make changes to their operation such as setting up an early warning system for dirty water upstream heading for the city plant.

He gave a "very preliminary estimate" of about $75,000 for the city to take the action the state wants.

"I've talked to the mayor today and I know he's seeking funding sources," Mower said Monday. "If they can't get all the money, we are willing to take a look with them at other operational things that might be done."

"We're looking at getting grant money," Auxer said. "And there may be some money available in Charleston" through state government. "But it's difficult finding money."

Runoff into the Potomac River caused by heavy rains caused water treatment system problems starting on the afternoon of Aug. 8

State officials advised residents on the Shepherdstown system to boil their water for cooking.

The advisory was lifted Aug. 14 after the water tested clean and the system was flushed.

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