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Prentiss Point residents steamed over water issues

The city's utilities director says new water main and a pump station should correct water pressure problems

The city's utilities director says new water main and a pump station should correct water pressure problems

July 18, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Discussion during Wednesday's Martinsburg City Council meeting centered on whether growth on Martinsburg's eastern fringe may outpace water system improvements that are under way.

Stephen Knipe, the city's utilities director, said that new mains and a pump station under construction should correct poor water pressure in the Prentiss Point area.

However, several people who attended Wednesday's meeting wondered about the future, especially if the area is developed, which appears likely.

Verne Hiett, who owns land that is being developed, told the council that residents on Stuckey Court are "screaming" about having lousy water pressure. Hiett also lives in Prentiss Point and said he has "never had water pressure worth a hoot."

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Richard McCune, an attorney representing Hiett, said the 68-foot-high water tank there should help the water flow, but it doesn't. He wondered if it's empty.

Not only is it full, Knipe said, but the city purposely overflows the tank once or twice a week to keep the water from stagnating. Water flows into a spillway.

Councilman Richard Yauger said that seems outrageous, considering that "people in Prentiss Point turn on their faucet and don't even get a drip."

"That's wasting water," he said.

"Sir, we have to keep fresh water in this tank," Knipe said.

Knipe said that area is at a higher elevation than the rest of the city and is served by two 6-inch mains. There are approximately 150 to 200 water customers there, he said.

The water project under way will add an 8-inch main to tie in at South Queen Street and an 8-inch main at Stuckey Court.

The first part may be finished within a month and the second part by the end of the year, Knipe said, adding that residents will notice an improvement in their water pressure.

That still leaves questions about whether the water system will be able to handle future development.

McCune said Panhandle Builders, Inc. has a plan to build 65 townhouses. The city's planning commission tabled the proposal last week so the water supply could be worked out.

Gap Builders of Gerrardstown, W.Va., has begun developing other property there in phases.

With the zone allowing 20 units per acre, there is a potential for hundreds more units. Specific plans have not been submitted.

Councilman Donald Anderson said that the effect of future development should be figured out before the water main work is completed.

"I think we need to try to take care of the situation while we have the ditch dug," he said.

Knipe said a new model looking at the maximum development of the area can be done in the next week.

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