Elkins, W. Va., January 28, 2021: On Monday, City of Elkins contractors will kick off two major infrastructure projects. Bear Contracting will begin Phase II of the city’s sewer/stormwater separation project, and Newman Plumbing will begin replacing remote-read water meters for all city water utility customers.
The sewer/stormwater separation project is the second phase of sewer-system improvements Elkins is required to implement under a 2011 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of this project is to reduce the number of combined sewer/stormwater pipes in Elkins, so that sudden downpours are less likely to overwhelm the sewer system’s capacity and cause overflows of untreated sewage to the Tygart Valley River.
In the phase of the sewer/stormwater project commencing Monday, crews will eventually excavate sections of 15 city streets and alleys in the neighborhood west of Wimer Field to install new, dedicated stormwater lines and related infrastructure components, such as manholes and catch basins.
The first street that will be excavated is Railroad Avenue, starting where it dead ends against the south bank of the Tygart Valley River, near Kelly Foundry.
This project, which is funded by a $4.9 million bond issue, will not result in any additional increase in sewer rates. More information about this project, including a list and map of the affected streets, can be found here: www.bit.ly/Phase2Sewer.
The water-meter project will replace the remote-read meters currently in use by the city’s approximately 4,200 water customers. These water meters are five years past warranty coverage, and about 1,300 have already failed. The opportunity to replace these water meters arose when aggressive costsaving measures during the 2016 water plant construction project spared the necessary $1.5 million. As a result, this project will not result in any increase in water rates. More information about this project can be found here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsWaterMeters
The impact of the water-meter replacement project, which must be completed by September, is projected by the contractor to be minor for most customers, involving only about 15 minutes’ disruption of water service per meter. The impacts of the sewer/stormwater separation project will vary by street but can be expected to include changes to traffic and parking patterns and the presence of heavy equipment; this project is not projected to disrupt any customer’s sewer service, however.
To stay current on information about these and other projects, as well as city news and safety alerts, please follow City of Elkins on one or more of the following communication channels:
- Website: cityofelkinswv.com
- Nixle (text messages): bit.ly/ElkinsNixle
- Facebook: facebook.com/ElkinsCityHall
- Twitter: twitter.com/ElkinsCityHall
- Newsletter: cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup
If you’ve noticed a higher total on your utility bill this month, it’s because of a sewer-rate increase that just went into effect. The amount raised by this increase is paying for a $4.3 million sewer project scheduled for this year. (In case you didn’t know, your sewer usage is charged based on your water usage.)
The purpose of this project, known as the Phase II Sewer Project, is to reduce sewage discharges into the river during heavy rain events. These discharges happen because Elkins stormwater and sewage have traditionally been carried in the same system of pipes, which can overflow during heavy rains. The Phase II Sewer Project will install several new dedicated stormwater lines to reduce the occurrence of such overflows. This project is proceeding under a federal consent decree between Elkins and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
There is no other source for this money. Under state law, sewer and other utilities must be run as standalone businesses. Their only source of funding comes from the rates paid by their customers. In other words, sewer projects like this one can only be paid for by raising sewer rates (and especially not with sales tax proceeds).