The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

September 19, 2013

Council approves first reading of sewer rate increase ordinance

OAK HILL — The $14 million sewer improvement project currently under way in Oak Hill was a primary discussion point at Monday’s City Council meeting.  

Council unanimously accepted first reading of an ordinance to again increase Oak Hill Sanitary Board sewer rates as part of the project ultimately aimed upgrading wastewater treatment plants and reducing pollutants entering the New River.

John Tuggle of Pentree Engineering, the project consultant, said that the project is running on schedule.

While Oak Hill’s sewer system works well under normal circumstances, heavy rains cause stormwater to enter the system through breaks in lines, manholes and illegal connections to gutter downspouts.

Water enters the city’s collection system from all directions and overloads the wastewater treatment plants — located on W.Va. 61 and in Minden — which can’t handle the water overload. While it’s primarily stormwater, there are traces of sewage in the water.

From there, the wastewater overflows directly into Arbuckle Creek or Loop Creek, which feed into the New River.

Due to the deteriorating conditions of lines, along with the high profile of the New River Gorge, Tuggle explained that the project must happen, otherwise the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will issue a consent order again the city, along with fines.

“We just finished a smoke test analysis to test the lines, that way we can target the areas that need attention,” said Tuggle. “That’s money well-spent.”

In addition to testing and identifying issues in the lines, the project will also treat the consequence of the stormwater by building large tanks at the plants that will accommodate a heavy rain event. Instead of draining into the creeks, the water will collect and be properly treated.

The first phase of the billing increase will take effect May 1, 2014. The minimum bill will be $24 and a household using 4,000 gallons will see an increase to $42.80.

At the completion of the project, currently slated for September or October 2014, the second schedule of the billing increase will become active, raising the minimum to $28 a month and to $50 for a household using 4,000 gallons of water.

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