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$4.8 million center expected to bring savings to district

January 28, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A new $4.8 million operations center for the Berkeley County Public Service Water District is expected to save the utility more than $125,000 a year in rent and operations costs.

Winchester, Va.,-based Lantz Construction Co., which was awarded the project earlier this month, submitted the low bid among 10 companies vying for the work, according to bid tabulations.

The 21,000-square-foot facility is to be built on about 15 acres in Cumbo Yard Industrial Park near Martinsburg where the water district already has a water tank in place, Water District Executive Director Paul S. Fisher said Monday.

The operations facility is among three projects totaling $8.4 million that were approved in October 2012 by the state Public Service Commission.
 
Upon completion of the projects, the county utility is expected to increase the monthly rates of its more than 20,000 customers by 1.35 percent to pay for the improvements, according to PSC documents and Fisher.

The operations center is not expected to be completed until next year, Fisher said. In anticipation of being able to move into the new facility, the water district’s board voted to extend the utility’s lease for space at 74 and 83 Monroe St., through April 2014, with a month-by-month option through July of next year, Fisher said. The water district also rents space about two miles away for the district’s field personnel and uses a former Opequon Public Service District facility it owns for storage, according to Fisher.

When the operations center opens, about 75 percent of the water district’s 50 full-time and two-part time employees will be working there, with the remaining staff staying at treatment plant facilities, Fisher said.

The rent savings is expected to be $77,430 per year and operations and maintenance costs are expected to be reduced by $51,540, according to Fisher and PSC documents.

The water district’s need for a larger facility stems back to the merger of the three districts in 2001, according to PSC documents.

None of the locations had the ability to house or expand and house all of the employees and equipment needed to manage the system, according to PSC documents.

The new facility will eliminate travel time between facilities, reduce wear and tear on vehicles and ultimately benefit customers, Fisher said.

The other Public Service Commission-approved projects will increase the amount of water that the county’s Potomac River water treatment plant will have available to treat by 2 million gallons and enhance the improve the distribution of the water from the plant southward, according to Fisher.  

C. William Hetzer Inc. of Hagerstown was awarded a $1.5 million contract to install pumps at the water districts Potomac Station well field and connect the new water source to the treatment plant with 12- and 16-inch water main, according to Fisher and Public Service Commission documents.

Panhandle Builders & Excavating Inc. of Martinsburg was awarded a $2 million contract to install larger water main along Williamsport Pike (U.S. 11) in the small community of Berkeley Station north of Martinsburg, according to Fisher.

Both companies were the low bidders for each project, according to bid tabulations.

The rate increase, which amounts to a 12-cent increase per 1,000 gallons, was agreed upon after the district originally asked the Public Service Commission to approve a 2.9 percent increase, according to PSC documents.

While the water district revised its initial rate increase request to 2.25 percent after exploring a 2004 bond refinancing option, the PSC’s staff had only recommended a rate increase of 0.8 percent. 

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