Berkeley County Public Service Water District eyes upgrades

Three projects are expected to cost a total of about $12.4 million

November 03, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The taste and odor of water piped to thousands of Berkeley County residents from the Potomac River should improve if a project to blend it with water pumped from three new wells north of Spring Mills is approved, officials said Thursday.

The Potomac Station "raw water line" in northern Berkeley County is one of three construction projects that the Berkeley County Public Service Water District hopes to complete by early 2014, the Berkeley County Council was told Thursday.

The three projects are projected to cost a total of about $12.4 million, but still must be approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, according to Executive Director Paul S. Fisher.

The water district also might ask the public service commission to approve a rate increase that Fisher said "probably would be in the neighborhood of 2 percent" to help pay for the projects.

If approved, the rate increase wouldn't take effect until 2014, said Fisher, who noted the last rate increase came in March 2009.

The actual amount of financing needed was reduced by $3.7 million, which was left over from previous bond issue-financed projects, officials said.

The other projects are construction of an operations center for the water district and the first phase of the Williamsport Pike water transmission main, also in northern Berkeley County, officials said.

The Potomac Station project entails the installation of 8,700 feet of 8-inch, 12-inch and 16-inch water main to pipe about 2.7 million gallons of raw well water per day west of Interstate 81 to the utility's Potomac River water filtration plant east of the highway and Williamsport Pike, according to plans presented to the council.

The blending of the river and well water should reduce taste and odor issues, according to Fisher.

The water district hopes to build the operations center on a 14-acre parcel along Caperton Boulevard off W.Va. 9 west of Martinsburg that would replace two facilities being leased for more than $80,000 a year, officials said.

The combined operations center is anticipated to improve communications, save time and travel cost, allow shared resources and improve customer response, officials said.

Work on the Williamsport Pike water transmission main project north of Martinsburg toward the Falling Waters treatment plant proposes the installation of 16-inch, 24-inch and 30-inch water main totaling 13,300 feet o provide additional flow.

Fisher said the larger diameter pipe will lower the amount of electricity used to pump the water from the Falling Waters treatment plant.

Despite seeing slower growth since the years of the housing market boom, Fisher said the water district can still afford to move forward with the projects.

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