CHARLESTON – The deadline for municipalities and water districts to file reports on the maintenance and testing of their fire hydrants was extended to Aug. 25 in a sternly worded order issued Aug. 7 by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
Only half the 301 utilities subject to the PSC responded to the original June 30 order. Their deadline was July 28. The PSC warned Monday that the consequences could be serious.
“We take this matter extremely seriously and must see these final and complete reports,” PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said.
The Commission said keeping accurate, up-to-date records such as these should be “ʻbusiness as usualʼ for a public utility.” This material is part of annual reports that water utilities are required to file, so it should be readily available. Brushing aside whether utilities “were making a good faith effort to comply,” the Commission warned: “We consider this to be a front and center public safety issue for which timing is of the essence and further delay is unacceptable.”
“Despite the considerable number of entities that failed to respond, only a handful of entities contacted the Commission to request additional time to provide the requested information,” the order said.
The Commission in June told public utility owners of fire hydrants or that service private fire hydrants to provide information on the number of hydrants owned or serviced. They were told to detail the ages of their devices, provide description of infrastructure supporting them, tell of any problem or complaints encountered, and to provide maintenance schedules and practices.
Lane and other members of the PSC staff testified on Monday to the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Technology and Infrastructure concerning the hydrants’ investigation.
More information on this case can be found on the PSC website: www.psc.state.wv.us. Click on “Case Information” and access Case No. 23-0555-W-GI.