NEW CUMBERLAND - After years of planning and delays, officials broke ground Thursday on a project they say will improve water quality for hundreds of central Hancock County residents.
The $5 million project for the Oakland Public Service District has five parts:
Construction of a water treatment plant on Hardins Run Road, to be completed by the end of the year;
Construction of a 375,000-gallon storage tank on Chapman Road, to be completed by November;
Construction of six and a half miles of water lines, to be completed by the end of the year;
Repainting of the storage tank on Wylie Ridge Road; and
Repainting of the Golden Key storage tank.
Interior and exterior painting of the storage tanks may not be done until next spring because of weather restrictions, said Gregory Scott, senior project manager for Buchart Horn Inc., a Pittsburgh engineering firm.
The new system will be brought online in phases, so most customers can expect improved quality by June 2013, he said.
"This project will increase the reliability and capacity of the existing water system," Scott said. "The removal of iron and manganese improves the quality of the water the service district delivers to its customers."
For years, Oakland PSD customers have complained about discolored water, odor problems, stained laundry and stained plumbing fixtures. The root of the problem has been elevated levels of iron and manganese in the water.
Currently, that water, drawn from five wells in the area, is treated with a chemical agent that controls, but does not remove, the iron and manganese, Scott said. Iron and manganese are considered secondary contaminants, which means they don't pose a direct health risk in humans, except in very high concentrations, he said.
The new treatment plant will remove the iron and manganese entirely through a high-rate pressure filter system - the first such system to be built in West Virginia. The filtration system will be housed in a new 35-by-40-foot plant being built next to the old plant on Hardins Run Road.
"This is a milestone for the Oakland Public Service District," Cindy Jones, district chairwoman, said at Thursday's groundbreaking. "It will lead to improved water quality and service for our customers."
The Oakland PSD currently treats and distributes water to 850 customers in central Hancock County, but 81 new customers will be added once the project is complete. The district has been looking at water treatment alternatives for at least 10 years, but funding for the project did not materialize until recently.
The district closed on a $3 million loan from the West Virginia Water Development Authority in May. In addition, it received a $1.3 million "forgivable" loan from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health's Drinking Water Treatment Revolving Loan Fund.
Other funding came from the Hancock County commissioners ($230,000), the Bureau for Public Health ($192,000), and the Oakland PSD ($100,000).
"It's been a nice effort on the part of a lot of entities, and it's run very smoothly," said Robert Zulick, associate vice president of Buchart Horn.
Construction on the treatment plant is under way, and construction on the water line is expected to start July 9. The line eventually will include all of Tope Road, all of Chapman Road, Kit Drive, Daniel Drive, Lowes Drive, and portions of Cameron Hollow Road.
Construction of the Chapman Road storage tank will begin in August. The tank on Wylie Ridge Road will be painted once the Chapman Road tank is online.
There should be no interruption in water service to customers during construction, although customers may experience a decrease in water pressure for a time.
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