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Downturn could benefit water projects

February 10, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Public Service Water District's capital improvement plans appear to be benefiting from the economic downturn.

Because of significant interest from contractors, the water district's $7.5 million bond-financed plan to pay for two projects to begin this year now is expected to cover the cost of a third project, Water District executive director Paul S. Fisher said Monday.

The water district received 20 bids for two projects, with apparent low bids of $3.7 million and $492,000, Fisher said.

"We'll have enough money left to do another project," Fisher said.

The "excellent" prices for two pipeline projects would not have been at all likely just two years ago, Fisher said.

The more expensive contract entails installation of about three miles of 24-inch pipe between two water tanks north of Martinsburg, one in Cumbo Yard industrial Park and the other near Opequon Elementary School. HRI Inc., of State College, Pa., submitted the lowest of 11 bids, Fisher said.

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The connection will allow water to more easily flow through the water district's system, ease the strain on the system's water pumps and burn less electricity, Fisher said.

The second project involves installation of a little more than a mile of 12-inch pipe along Goldmiller Road, from W.Va. 51 (Gerrardstown Road) to Mish Road, Fisher said. Heritage Contracting LLC of Martinsburg submitted the lowest of nine bids received by the water district, Fisher said.

The line will improve service to the Springdale Farm subdivision, a single family residential development at the intersection of Mish Road and Goldmiller Road, Fisher said.

With the remaining money, Fisher said the water district will complete one of three projects - filtration improvements at Springdale, extension of a 24-inch line north of Martinsburg to the community of Berkeley Station or construction of an administrative office/service building(s).

The latter would replace facilities that the water district does not own on Monroe Street just north of Martinsburg and along U.S. 11, Fisher said.

"It's long-term benefit for our customers (if we own our own facilities)," Fisher said.

Whatever project is chosen might not be built until next year, Fisher said.

The water district has a little more than 19,000 customers and Fisher estimated 45,000 people are served by the agency.

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