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Stimulus to help pay for Harpers Ferry sewer plant upgrade

July 22, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- A much-needed upgrade of the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry public sewer plant soon will be under way, with half of the project's cost to be paid by $630,000 in federal stimulus money, Bolivar Mayor Robert Hardy said Wednesday.

The remaining cost of $1.26 million project will be paid with an interest-free state loan that will be repaid through a rate increase for the system's 720 customers.

Officials did not know how much of a rate increase the new work will require. An average customer sending 4,500 gallons per month through the system pays about $35 a month.

"The rate increase won't be nearly as bad as it would be without the stimulus money," Hardy said. "This has been a long, hard battle."

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The current system, built in 1978, is being upgraded to meet new state standards. It has the capacity to treat 300,000 gallons per day. 

It handles about 200,000 gallons per day, leaving enough capacity for the proposed, multimillion-dollar remake of the Hilltop House restaurant and resort.

The final upgrade of the plant will cost an additional $2.5 million and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

The first phase, announced Wednesday, includes installation of a state-of-the-art system that will remove 75 percent of the water in the sludge the plant produces. It will take about six months to build and replace drying beds, in place since the plant opened.

The second phase is a complete remake of the plant itself, which will result in the removal of phosphates and nitrogen generated in the treatment of sewage. 

The current plant always has met existing state standards for effluent discharge, officials said.

Hardy also announced Wednesday that the Town of Bolivar has applied for a West Virginia Division of Highways grant for $200,000 to build 700 feet of sidewalks along Washington Street from Harpers Ferry Middle School to the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library.

The town will kick in 20 percent of the cost if the grant is approved.

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