Terry Gould, Hodgesville Public Service District Manager, addresses commissioners. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Commission votes to approve supporting water extension to serve Murphy’s Station Road residents

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission agreed to sign a letter of support for a project to extend water services to residents on Murphy’s Station Road.

Terry Gould, Hodgesville Public Service District Manager, attended the March 2 Upshur County Commission meeting to request the commissioners’ approval for the project, which is located on the Barbour County line new Volga.

“Through Region VII, we have approached the critical needs fund in the state of West Virginia to fund this project, but we are having to cross county lines. We will be going into Barbour County,” Gould said. “Therefore, we need your permission to go into Barbour County.”

Carrie Wallace, project coordinator with the Region VII Planning & Development Council, said there are seven residents on Murphy Station Road who do not have access to clean drinking water.

“The only thing they can use it for is to wash their vehicles; they cannot cook with it, they cannot wash their hands, they cannot drink it, so they’re in a dire situation in need of public drinking water,” Wallace said. “They had testing done, and there’s E. coli, chloroform and a few other dangerous chemicals in their water, which is what’s preventing them from use.”

Wallace explained that all water and sewer projects must move through the West Virginia Infrastructure Jobs and Development Council, a statewide funding clearinghouse for water and wastewater projects. She said the IJDC has a critical needs project designation that allows people who are unable to safely consume water to apply for money.

The engineer on the project estimated the total cost of the project will be $390,000, she added.

“In the event that funding is not successful, then this isn’t something that Hodgesville will move forward with and that’s why a few years ago, when they were approached by this area, they explained they couldn’t afford to go into another county with this extension, but with this critical need funding, it would enable them to do so,” Wallace said.

Century Volga Public Service District currently does not serve the area, and they have sent a letter relinquishing that area to the Hodgesville PSD.

“The reason why Century Volga can’t serve it is because there’s a railroad track that crosses between their current line and the service area and it’s very expensive to bore under a railroad track and get the order to do so,” Wallace said. “We plan to have all the information to the IJDC by the March 10 deadline, and they’ll consider it. Their technical review and funding committee meeting is on the 24th and then it would go to full council the week after that, and we would know whether the funding was available.”

If the funding isn’t available, the Hodgesville PSD will have to wait until June.

“Even if we’re not successful in April, there could be a potential for the June/July timeframe, but the schedule Thrasher (Engineering) has put together was aggressive with 10 months for construction basically, from the time that funding is awarded to completion, so it’s going to be a quick turnaround,” Wallace said. “There won’t be much construction time at all, and they’ve done that just because of the situation that the residents have in that area.”

Wallace and Gould are scheduled to attend the Barbour County Commission meeting March 6 to ask for their support of the project.

“The West Virginia [Public Service Commission] requires we get permission from the county in which the PSD (Public Service District) is located as well as the county in which the PSD would be entering, we don’t foresee any issues with that at all,” Wallace said. “Of course, they would love to see their residents receive public water as it’s needed, so I sent a letter of support to Tabatha (Perry, Upshur County administrator) for your consideration, if you are in support of this project, we would greatly appreciate it if we could include that in our grant application.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the request.  

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