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Cooling System Needed for Sewage Plant

Thursday October 5, 2006
The Pocahontas Times

By Drew Tanner

A cooling system for the proposed sewage plant in Slaty Fork will likely push the project's price-tag closer to the $20 million mark.

In May, the state's Department of Environmental Protection said the plant would need a cooling system to prevent it from heating the upper Elk River.

Local watershed groups and fishermen raised objections that the discharge from the plant would raise the stream's temperature, making it uninhabitable for native trout and undoing one of the region's healthiest and most popular fisheries.

As the project prepares to make its way through the DEP for a discharge permit, the Pocahontas County Public Service District voted to approve the necessary changes to the project's engineering plan September 26.

Tom Michael, the PSD's attorney, said Thrasher Engineering estimated the cost of the additional equipment and construction would add about $1 million to the $17 million project.

The additional design work for the cooling system will cost another $100,000, which Thrasher has requested up front, Michael told the PSD.

"There is going to be some rate impact," Michael said.

When the project's finances were presented to the West Virginia Public Service Commission last fall, household rates were estimated to start at $49.50 a month.

When the county first applied for funding for the plant in July, 2003, the rates were estimated to be $36 a month, with the entire project costing $12.8 million.

The DEP has said the cooling system would be necessary regardless of where the plant might be located on the upper Elk River.

Specific temperature limits would be spelled out in the plant's discharge permit, according to the DEP.

During Tuesday's meeting, Michael recommended—and the board approved—asking Pendleton Community Bank to finance the cooling system's engineering costs.

The bank has already given the PSD a $300,000 line of credit for preliminary costs, including land acquisition for the plant site.

Collateral for the line of credit is being guaranteed by Snowshoe Mountain Resort, said Michael.

The line of credit would be settled at the project's bond closing, Michael added.

The meeting was the PSD's first with new board member Scott Millican, who was appointed by the county commission in September. Millican's appointment came after the resignation of PSD chairman Calvin Hill in July.

With the board's three seats filled once again, members voted to name Bill Rexrode chairman, while Millican was named secretary. Mark Smith will continue as the board's treasurer.