Officials are moving ahead as quickly as the wheels of government will turn to bring a permanent solution to Ravencliff-McGraws-Saulsville Public Service District water customers.
The cost of that solution could be as high as $1 million, according to county officials.
Problems began nearly a month ago when the water source, located inside a mine, began to dry up, explained Mike Goode, county administrator.
The system suffered a critical shortage of water, Dean Meadows, Wyoming County Emergency Services director, told commissioners during a special meeting Dec. 27.
That may have been the result of a roof fall where the water intake source was located, Goode said.
The intake source was moved, however, and the water supply did not improve.
In the short-term, officials were trying to find an alternate water source, Meadows told commissioners.
As a long-term solution, engineers working on the project had investigated the possibility of four new sources of water, he said.
Members of the RMS PSD met with engineers, along with county and state officials Thursday afternoon to decide on a course of action.
The PSD serves 1,400 customers, but that would easily include more than 2,000 people, Meadows said.
Customers include Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Twin Falls Resort State Park, Wyoming Continuous Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Wyoming County East High School, Glen Fork Elementary and Middle School, along with an assisted living facility in Glen Rogers.
Communities impacted include Jesse, Matheny, Sabine, Glen Rogers, Glen Fork, Ravencliff, Saulsville, McGraws, Key Rock and New Richmond.
The fact that the schools were closed for Christmas break helped the situation, Meadows said.
Students returned to the classroom Thursday.
Commissioners declared a state of emergency Dec. 26, opening the door to state assistance, according to Gov. Jim Justice.
“I have directed the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to continue working with the PSD to meet their short-term emergency needs,” Justice said in a press release.
“Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management personnel have been working with the PSD for over three weeks, right after the issue was first brought to my attention.
“I have directed my staff to explore all available state resources, including working with the West Virginia Water Development Authority, to find a permanent solution to this issue,” the governor said.
“The governor is urging everybody to get this project moving,” Goode emphasized.
He also lauded Gov. Justice for his assistance. The governor’s help and emergency declaration will speed the entire process, Goode noted, and provide funding sources.