8/31: Parking Restrictions on Lavalette

On Wednesday (8/31), Bear Contracting will begin patch paving on Lavalette Ave. Work will begin at 7:00 a.m. and is scheduled for completion by noon, weather dependent.

There will be no parking on Lavelette between 14th Street and 15th Street during this time.

8/22-8/24: No Parking on Lavallette

Monday-Wednesday (8/22-8/24), Bear Contracting will be excavating Lavallette Avenue between 14th and 15th. There will be no parking on this block while this work is ongoing.

The purpose of this work is to perform sewer installation and storm-drain repair under warranty from last year’s sewer/stormwater separation project.

This schedule is weather dependent.

Storm Water Update From Chief Operator

Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins sewer utility, has provided the following update concerning recent extraordinary rain events in Elkins, obstacles for storm water management, and next steps that are being planned to continue making improvements:

The past few months have exhibited extremely extraordinary rain events for the Elkins area. These unprecedented influxes of precipitation are causing system overloads.

Usually, overload issues are relieved by permitted discharges located throughout the City. These permitted overflows are designed to help reduce any potential flooding or surcharges involved with the Sanitary Sewer system. These abnormal rain events experienced are surging the system and are maxing design capacities.

The City of Elkins has been working diligently to improve system flaws throughout past years. These developments are very exhaustive and expensive and must be completed in “Phases” to provide a cost-effective solution to not only the City but also to the residents that will ultimately be responsible. The City began these “Phase Projects” with the initial “Phase I Project”, which began in 2015. The “Phase II Project” was just completed in 2021 and is still undergoing finalization.

Comparing dates, the duration of a Phase Project can take anywhere from 3-5 years. The length of time is due to the thorough work it takes for design, execution, and completion. At this time, there have not been any designated areas chosen for the upcoming Phase III project.

City personnel and collaborating partners are in the beginning stages of identifying areas impacted the most to provide the most success for the system and the best cost-effective strategy for residents. State and federal guidelines also play a large factor as to what can and cannot be implemented in the system. Since it is not feasible to have one project covering the entire City, the Phase III Project will not be the last progress seen. Numerous Phase Projects throughout future years will provide a cost-effective option for City residents.

A short-term solution that may help alleviate flooding issues would be to remove downspouts/roof drains from the Sanitary Sewer. Removal of excess storm water from the Sanitary Sewer will aid in the control of overload issues. Please note, if downspout/roof drain removal is completed consideration should be followed for any neighboring properties or locations.

In conclusion, the City of Elkins is aggressively working toward improving the current system. These improvements will take time due to regulatory standards, concentrated studies, and guaranteeing that studies confirm areas that will provide the most impact and cost effectiveness not only for the City but also for the residents we serve.

Separation Project Reduced Storm Water in Sewer Lines

This time last year, South Elkins was the scene of near-constant excavation work as a city contractor installed new underground pipes to carry storm water to the river. As is still the case in much of Elkins, South Elkins had no storm-water lines. Instead, storm drains and many residential downspouts in that neighborhood were connected directly to sewer lines. In combined sewer/storm-water systems like ours, too much rain can enter the sewer system during big storms, resulting in overflows of untreated wastewater to the river. Last year’s work in South Elkins was the second phase of an ongoing project to separate sewer and storm-water lines to reduce the occurrence of such overflows.

So, how effective was this project? Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins wastewater system, says that the two phases of sewer/storm-water separation work completed so far have already been extremely effective at reducing the volume of water entering sewer lines during heavy rainfall.

“When I started working at the treatment plant about 12 years ago, heavy rain events could result in as much as 8-10 million gallons leaving the plant after treatment,” says Hymes, who points out that the plant is designed to treat and release no more than 4.99 million gallons of outflow, or effluent, per day. “The effluent we were releasing still met environmental standards, but it definitely wasn’t as clear and clean as it could have been.”

According to Hymes, since the completion of the underground work last fall, the highest spike in system volume caused by a large rain event was only 5.99 millions in a single day.

“We still have work to do to eliminate overflows entirely, which is the goal DEP [the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection] has set for us ,” says Hymes, “but  we are making good progress toward that goal.”

Hymes and her team are currently working with engineers to plan a third phase of sewer/storm-water separation work. The project start date has not yet been set. In the meantime, there is something that property owners in South Elkins can do to help further reduce the volume of storm-water entering the sewer system.

“There are still a lot of houses in Elkins with gutter downspouts connected directly to the sewer lines,” says Hymes. “We really need to get those tied to the storm-water lines instead. If anyone wants more information, I encourage them to get in touch with me.”

Reach the Wastewater Treatment Plant at (304) 636-2058 or by emailing whymes@cityofelkinswv.com.

New Loader Key to Wastewater Biosolids Program

With the delivery of a new piece of heavy equipment this week, the Elkins Wastewater Treatment Plant is positioned to continue and potentially expand a program through which sewage-treatment by-products are transformed into fertilizer for area farmers.

The approximately $100,000 purchase of a LiuGong 835H wheel loader was funded from the City of Elkins ARPA award. The new loader includes a Cummins engine and power-shift transmission, safety features such as a rearview camera and 309-degree panoramic view from the operator’s seat, and a fully sealing cab that will provide better protection against fumes generated during wastewater treatment.

The new loader, which replaced one that was four decades old, is crucial to the department’s biosolids program.

Biosolids, a semisolid, nutrient-rich substance also known as “sewage sludge,” are a product of the wastewater treatment process. Once sewage arrives at the plant through the pipes of the wastewater collection system, it passes through a series of steps that separate its liquid and solid components. The liquid components are purified before being released as surface water. The solid components are treated to produce biosolids, which may then be applied to qualifying agricultural land as fertilizer.

“We use belt presses and polymer chemistry to dewater the biosolids,” says Whitney Hymes, the chief wastewater operator for the Elkins Sanitary Board. “The conveyor system deposits the biosolids on the floor, and we use our front-loader to scoop it up and collect it.”

The next step in the process depends on the time of year.

“During the winter, we have to store it on site, but during warmer months we have local farmers who want to spread it on their fields,” says Hymes. “It’s extremely nutrient rich, with lots of nitrogen and phosphorous, so it makes excellent fertilizer. We had one farmer who told us he doubled his hay yield by using our biosolids.”

Land application of wastewater biosolids is highly regulated because the process that generates the biosolids can result in high concentrations of metals and other undesirable contaminants. Only biosolids meeting strict EPA standards may be used this way. The land where it will be applied must be evaluated, and laboratory employees at the wastewater treatment plant must carefully monitor pollutant and pathogen levels to ensure that each batch of biosolids is safe to use this way.

“Before we can apply the biosolids to any agricultural land, we have to take soil samples and make sure that, after application, the total metals and other pollutants in the soil won’t exceed federal limits,” says Hymes. “We come back and check quarterly to make sure everything is still within the required parameters.”

The Elkins Wastewater Treatment Plant biosolids program operates under a Class B license, which limits application to agricultural land only. Hymes is currently evaluating whether the city might shift to a Class A license.

“Under a Class A license,” Hymes explains, “we’d be operating a mill that transforms the biosolids into pellets, which we could sell to anyone who is interested, from farmers to home gardeners.”

Whether the program continues to operate under a Class B license or shifts to a Class A, the new loader will play a vital role for years to come. The Elkins Wastewater Treatment Plant generates 200-250 dry tons of biosolids each year, and the plant’s loader is in operation throughout most of each workday.

“We run our loader 5-6 hours a day, five days a week,” says Hymes. “That was a lot to ask of our old one, which was way overdue for replacement. I’m really pleased that we were able to make this purchase using ARPA funds to minimize the impact on our customers.”

WWTP employees receive training on their new wheel loader from a company representative.

A side view of the new loader.

Changes to Organizational Structure

Last modified on February 17th, 2022 at 07:13 am

As a result of recent actions by council, the city’s water and sanitary boards are now providing administrative oversight of the city’s water and sewer system operations. See below for more information about this new organizational structure:

  • Water Board: Oversees the city’s water treatment and distribution system. Click here for more information.
  • Sanitary Board: Oversees the city’s wastewater collection and treatment system. Click here for more information.
  • Operations Department: Oversees trash collection, street repair, code enforcement, building permits and inspections, and maintenance and upkeep of city hall and other non-water/non-sewer buildings, facilities, and grounds. Click here for more information.

The city is also actively accepting applications for a new operations manager. Learn more and apply on this page.

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