Barbour County water project gets funding

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PHILIPPI, W.Va. — Officials with the city of Philippi say funding has been secured to complete a project to create a secondary water source for the city and more than 80 percent of Barbour County.

City Manager Jeremy Drennen said the city was recently approved for a $10 Million dollar grant from the West Virginia Water Development Authority. The money will be used to subsidize construction of an 80 acre reservoir which would serve as a backup to the Tygart River for the local water supply.

“Sometimes the river is low and causes issues. Plus there’s always the concern if there’s any kind of contamination then how do we have a backup,” Drennen said.

The 2014 Freedom Industries Chemical Spill on the Elk River in Charleston caused most West Virginia municipalities to examine the potential for a secondary water source. The incident spilled chemicals into Charleston’s main raw water source only a mile upstream from the water treatment plant. The result was nine days of lost water service for a nine-county region.

The reservoir will be built on Little Laurel Run a few miles outside of town.

“It’s a steady stream up in the Union area of Barbour County. We’re excited because we’ll be able to gravity feed that down to the city of Philippi and won’t have to incur any electric costs or operating expenses to get that water down to the city,” he explained.

The project will require the city purchase a number of parcels of property from area landowners, but Drennen said the conversation with those landowners has been ongoing for the past 15 years. They were informed earlier this week the funding has been approved for the project to move ahead.

The timeline calls for design work to begin immediately.

“I would say the plans will be done by the end of the year and I would assume construction would start next year and it would be a three to five year project,” said Drennen.

The total cost of the project is projected at $15 Million. The $5 Million dollar balance will be taken out in long term debt through the West Virginia Development Authority and amortized over a 30 year period.