Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.

"Here's What I Think," from the editor of The Pocahontas Times

Thursday May 24, 2007
The Pocahontas Times

By Pamela Pritt, Editor

It's about time.

Finally, at last week's county commission meeting a Thrasher Engineering representative spoke to the public about the company's plans for the Slaty Fork Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Ken Moran told commissioners his company plans to sit down with 8 Rivers Safe Development president George Phillips to hear more about what he has to say about karst topography and immersible membrane technology.

That conversation should have taken place about three years ago, perhaps not with George Phillips, but with someone who could guide the engineering firm in dealing with karst topography. While I realize the past cannot be undone, I hope the result will be worth the wait, if not the animosity and bad community feelings this project has thrust upon us.

I'm anxious to hear the outcome of that conversation. I hope Thrasher comes up with a plan for the area that's innovative and environmentally sound. I hope they find some other area is suitable for the plant if, in fact, it has to be built at all.

Granted, we've only scratched the surface on immersible membrane technology and what it can do in terms of keeping the Slaty Fork area as clean as possible.

But if I were on the Public Service District Board and I was given the opportunity to look at a plan that retrofitted Snowshoe Mountain Resort's existing treatment plant, put the effluent into the Shavers Fork of Cheat instead of the Elk and cost estimates were less than half the $20 million pricetag of the traditional plant, plus, and this is a big plus, I wouldn't have to invoke eminent domain, I'd sure as heck take a good long look. And I'd make sure the public was aware of the perusal.

The argument against Snowshoe building its own plant was that it denied development in the valley because the allowable stream degradation would be used by the resort. With Phillips' plan, the resort's effluent has zero effect on the Elk's stream degradation. Small cluster systems in developing areas allow for that development to be "off the grid" of U. S. Rt. 219. The downside, I suppose, for developers is that they have to build the plants for those areas. Still, with all the Elk's allowable stream degradation open for development, it's hard to argue that they'll be too financially impeded.

And while the cost of waiting any longer might be a deterrent to both the PSD and the county commission, the cost of pursuing the Sharp Farm location, with eminent domain proceedings a certainty, won't be cheap. It might be several more years before the plant can be built and that will surely increase the cost.

Thrasher and the PSD should take a long hard look at Phillips' plan and ideas. It can't hurt and it might be the answer we've all been waiting for.