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Commission, residents frustrated by mountain water woes

July 26, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A group of Blue Ridge Mountain property owners who depend on a poorly designed water system for their water is asking for help from local and state officials to correct problems in the service.

The well water system that serves about 385 customers in the Westridge Hills, Harpers Ferry Campsites and Keyes Ferry Acres subdivisions has numerous problems including undersized lines, leaks and high levels of iron in the water, said Lee Snyder, owner of Jefferson Utilities, a private company that took over the system in an attempt to stabilize the situation.

When leaks occur in the system, it can take up to two days to find them, Snyder said. In the meantime, customers often experience low water pressure.

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"Leaks are virtually an everyday occurrence. They were never right, but they have gotten a lot worse," Snyder said.

A letter signed by 13 customers of the water system was sent to various health department officials, state utility regulators, the Jefferson County Commission, other local elected officials and candidates for office asking for a solution to the problem.

The commissioners said Thursday they would be willing to offer assistance to customers of the water system, but they were not sure what they can do.

Water rate increases could never generate enough money to correct the problems, and it could be difficult to obtain grants to make improvements to the system since a private company is running it, the commissioners said.

The Jefferson County Public Service District initially took over the water system after it began experiencing financial problems, according to Commissioner James G. Knode.

The Public Service District proposed replacing the water system by extending a water line from the city of Charles Town's water plant, Knode said.

Subdivision residents did not support the proposal because of the high cost of the project, he said.

The Public Service District's proposal would have cost between $7 million and $10 million, Snyder said.

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