Water project

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Eastern Wyoming Public Service District officials signed a project agreement for the new Bud/Alpoca water system Tuesday afternoon. Pictured, from left, are Mike Browning, Sen. Joe Manchin’s regional coordinator; Kim Gross, representing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; Lt. Col. William Reding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy district commander; Wyoming County Commissioner Jason Mullins; Virgil Shrewsbury Jr., Eastern Wyoming PSD treasurer; Commissioner Larry Mathis; Rahall; Commissioner Silas Mullins; Dave Cole, Region I Planning and Development Council; Del. Linda Goode Phillips; William Baisden, Eastern Wyoming PSD general manager.

Federal, state, county and local officials moved the Bud/Alpoca water project a step further Tuesday afternoon. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Eastern Wyoming Public Service District officials signed a project agreement that will bring potable water to 170 residential and business customers in the Bud and Alpoca communities.

“I believe that safe drinking water is absolutely essential to the health of our families and the well-being of our economy, which is why I have fought so hard for increased federal funding for these basic services,” Rahall said. 

“Working with local and state officials, I will continue to press for federal funding to connect as many taps as possible to clean, drinkable water.

“The nation’s crumbling infrastructure — our water systems, roads and bridges — and the opposition of some in Congress to investing in repairs and improvements is an economic nightmare in the making,” Rahall emphasized.

“It takes a long time to get these water projects done,” said Silas Mullins, Wyoming County Commission. “It gets very frustrating, not only for the people (in need of water) but for those of us trying to get it done,” Mullins said.

 “But it does happen and this one is getting close.”

Total cost for the Bud/Alpoca project is $2.2 million, according to Dave Cole, Region I Planning and Development Council.

Officials have applied for financing from federal and state sources, according to officials.

This project is now considered to be part of the Covel water project, Mullins said.

Rahall said officials are looking to tap into the new Covel system for the Bud/Alpoca communities.

The congressman also helped to make available for the nearby Covel water project nearly $5.7 million; all of which — except for $125,000 — is Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding that resulted from legislation he sponsored in 1992 and renewed in 2006.

The Covel main line will begin at Elmore Bridge near Mullens and then snake through the ground to Covel, directly in front of the school in Herndon, Mullins said, which is served by the Bud/Alpoca system.

While construction has not begun, the funding is in place and the paperwork has been done on the Covel project, Mullins said.

In May, the Bud/Alpoca project was awarded $520,000 through the Army Corps Section 340 Southern West Virginia Infrastructure Program. 

The Corps’ Section 340 Program, which Rahall helped to create in 1992 and has worked to fully fund, has provided residents across southern West Virginia with modern water and wastewater systems.

“Across southern West Virginia, we have put the hard-working, talented men and women of the Corps to work,” Rahall said. “Through the Section 340 Program, the Corps has been bringing clean drinking water to our families, our schools and businesses and making our communities healthier, wealthier and wiser about the value of sound investments of taxpayer dollars.”

Rahall began working with the Corps years ago to improve infrastructure in southern West Virginia.

“If they could build R.D. Bailey and Bluestone dams, I thought, surely the Corps could help run a waterline through Wyoming County,” Rahall said. “So I went to work to shape that idea into law, mind you, with Republican members of Congress. I was able to get it done on bipartisan basis.”

Rahall visited with residents of both communities Feb. 7 to help work out the quickest solution. At the time, the communities had been under a boil water advisory for nearly six months.

The water problems began when the owner of the private water system in Bud/Alpoca died last year. 

Shortly afterward, the water plant operator left. The owner’s family tried to maintain the system; but, for a short time, the water wasn’t treated or was inadequately treated, according to officials. That led to the extended boil water advisory.

The Logan Public Service District, in conjunction with the Eastern Wyoming Public Service District, has taken over the system and the advisory has since been lifted.

Customers currently pay about $48 per month for the water, which covers the costs at the plant, according to officials.

“Today we mark a solid milestone,” Rahall said. “Now’s not the time to let up. We must redouble our efforts so we can advance this project even further and tackle the next project and the next, and keep on making progress throughout this community and all of southern West Virginia. Together, we can forge a brighter future.”

E-mail: mcbrooks@register-herald.com

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