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Study Shows High Whiteman Water Cost

By Staff | Jul 28, 2009

“It takes three to five years to get funding for each water project,”

explained Keith Nelsen, district manager of Public Service District #1.

Nelsen was before the county commissioners and the Whiteman Hill residents Tuesday to present copies of the engineer’s estimates and maps of the Whiteman Hill water project. Nelsen outlined the process for obtaining water in an area from a Public Service District.

The bottom line from the estimate is pricey-approximately $46,000 to $54,000 per customer. This is more than the previously released estimate of $42,000 per household that was determined to be too expensive.

Nelsen said the entire project would cost about $2.425 million. However, this is variable as the detailed reports include costs with and without fire flow. Also, he went over the funding proposals and reminded everyone that this is just funding sources they have already identified as possibilities.

Nelsen told the commissioners that the cost was inflated by 20 percent because the project would take at least two to three years before it could be started. He also explained that the addition of the fire flow adds to the cost of the project.

“The commission paid for this engineering study,” Nelsen reminded those present at the meeting.

Nelsen told commissioners that so far they have an estimate of 37 to 38 people wanting to obtain water with PSD in that area and are willing to sign up for it. He noted that there really are about 46 to 48 people, but, “Everyone wants it, but in the end, not everyone gets on board.” He told commissioners he has seen this happen before with other water projects.

Addressing the funding issue, Nelsen spoke of the (RUS) Rural Utilities funding, “This is nationwide money and the projects don’t have to be shovel ready,” he explained. Scott Lemley, commissioner, reminded the Whitehill residents, “I’ve never seen a project totally funded through grant money.”

Nelsen outlined that these types of projects can get funding from the West Virginia Infrastructure Council.

Lemley asked, “Does the fact that their water is contaminated help any?” Nelsen replied it would not help. He stressed to those present that Congressman Alan B. Mollohan is their best hope for the funding.

“Funding is the key,” he stressed.

“The more grant money you put into it, the less money customers will have to pay.”

He continued explaining that since he has been with the PSD this could be his fourth biggest project, if approved, and he reminded everyone that it takes between three to five years just get the funding available to start these projects.

“In my estimate, it can take up to three years. You are competing against everyone in the state,” stated Nelsen. He further explained that there are about 20 to 30 water projects and about 200 Public Service Districts in the state of West Virginia.

Commission Vice President Bob Gorby told the Whiteman Hill residents, “I’ll will talk to Mollohan myself.”

Commission President Don Mason replied, “The commission needs to talk to the legislators about the funding.”