Story by Mike Nolting, MetroNews

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — The Bridgeport Utility Board has successfully met monitoring requirements for lead and copper in the water system and has been reinstated as a reduced monitoring utility system.

Beth Fox

Surveillance testing in the summer of 2021 found three cases of high lead levels in the Clarksburg Water System, the primary provider of water to the Bridgeport community. Increased testing, booted water, and emergency service line replacement were then followed in the Clarksburg area.

Before the discovery, every three years 30 homes were tested for the presence of lead and copper, according to director of engineering and public utilities Beth Fox.

The West Virginia Department of Health implemented an increased testing regime following the discovery. The increased testing mandate was for up to 60 homes every six months, Fox said.

“Getting samples from locations throughout the town,” Fox said. “It required the customers to take their first flush out of the spigot in the morning, and our staff collected them the same morning and sent them off for testing.”

The samples were selected primarily based on the age of the neighborhood or the age of the materials used in homes. Fox said most of the areas tested were neighborhoods built before 1980.

“Select the areas of town where houses were built prior to a certain year, houses where you have an idea that used lead, soldered fittings, or lead lines,” Fox said.

The change allows the Bridgeport Utility Board to return to the testing schedule of 30 homes every three years after three years of increased testing.

“Following the regulations implemented over the past three years, we were certainly able to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Health, and they gave us approval to go back to our original monitoring schedule,” Fox said.

Fox said the Bridgeport distribution system is now up to code with the last upgrade just a few years ago. Fox said work will shift to services and neighborhoods in a more business-as-usual fashion.

“Through town, probably five or six years ago, we replaced our last section of line that we knew to have lead fittings in it in our main distribution system,” Fox said. “Through Bridgeport, we know our lines are free and clear.”

Fox said as a small utility they know most customers and she has really appreciated their patience over the last three years.

“Through all of this we have definitely developed close relations with our customers, and we hope their faith in us has increased and they can rely on us as their system provider to give them the best water we can,” Fox said.

Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced $6.88 million in funding from the EPA to the Clarksburg Water Board. The money will fund a transmission line on Van Buren Street, work on West Pike Street, and service line work in the communities of Northview, Rosebud, and Stealey.