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Wellsburg considering water rate increase

WELLSBURG — Wellsburg Council has moved forward with plans to raise the city’s water rates to fund renovations to the city’s water treatment system while engineering is under way for remedies to runoff that has flooded properties on the city’s east side.

On Sept. 8, council approved a first reading raising the city’s base water rate from $6.20 per 1,000 gallons to $6.94 per 1,000 gallons for customers who use less than 18,000 gallons of water per month.

Other increases have been approved for customers who use 18,000 gallons of water or more.

Pending approval of a second reading, the increases are set to go into effect 45 days from their passage.

The reading is set to occur at council’s 7 p.m. Oct. 13 meeting, when public comment will be accepted.

It also calls for the base rate to increase again to $8.68 per 1,000 gallons after crews have begun work on an estimated $5.3 million in improvements to the city’s water lines and treatment plant.

City Manager Mike Maguschak said the work is expected to begin in late summer or early fall of next year.

He said the two increases will be used to repay a $4.9 million low-interest loan from the state Water Development Authority taken for the project.

Maguschak said the work will include replacing lines and hydrants along Charles, Main and Commerce streets from Second to 12th streets. He noted breaks to lines along Commerce Street (also known as state Route 2) have been a recurring problem in recent years, with as many as five occurring last winter.

Maguschak added the 4-inch lines will be replaced with 8-inch ones to meet current standards for water pressure and valves will be installed to prevent large areas of the city from losing service when a break occurs.

The city manager said the dry press used for the city’s treated sewage sludge will be replaced with a belt press used to compact it, allowing the city to expand the marina area near the Sixth Street Wharf.

He said in addition to fencing in the water plant, electrical and other upgrades also will be made to the facility.

Maguschak and others also have been turning their attention to correcting the flow of runoff on the city’s east end, which during heavy rain has resulted in flooding of the Unity Apartments building and other properties in that area.

Owners of the apartment building have filed a suit against the city and the West Virginia Division of Highways for damages there from flooding on three occasions and the cost of temporarily relocating tenants there and measures taken to deter future flooding.

The case is pending in the 1st Judicial Circuit Court.

The city has been awarded $1.07 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to design stormwater lines and drains in the area to divert the runoff, which also has flooded Pleasant Avenue and Commerce Street.

Maguschak said the city is pursuing funds to install new stormwater lines along Pleasant Avenue and a new outfall at 27th Street to convey the water.

He said Thrasher Engineering is working on designs for the project that must be approved by FEMA.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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