Parkersburg Utility Board well project approved

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg Utility Board is in the midst of a $750,000 project to replace the motor controls on the five wells that draw the city’s drinking water.

During its regular meeting in the PUB administration building Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a cost estimate of $82,395 for well No. 2, one of three wells located along the east bank of the Ohio River. PUB Manager Eric Bennett said those wells – and two others on Neale Island – were built in the 1940s and 1950s.

“They still had the same motor controls,” he said. “The only way we can control the flow is to throttle valves, which isn’t (efficient).”

The existing motors are 2,300-volt units, Bennett said. The new ones are 480 volts and also offer variable frequency drives to better control the flow.

Having better control over how much water is pulled from each well can reduce long-term maintenance issues, Bennett said. The new units also will use less power.

“They’ll basically pay for themselves in a few years with electrical savings,” Bennett said.

Work on wells 2 and 3 is finished, and work on No. 1 is about to start, Bennett said.

“When they complete the ones on the mainland, they will move to the island,” he said.

The work, which is not expected to impact water service to customers, is slated to be finished this summer.

In other business, the board briefly discussed Tuesday’s vote by Parkersburg City Council approving a four-year, 21.5 percent sewer rate increase. The measure passed 5-4 on both readings.

Some council members’ objections were based on money going to operational expenses and the board’s policy of giving cost-of-living pay raises as well as merit pay.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bob Newell, the non-voting chairman of the board, said the board would need to review its pay policies during its upcoming budget process.

“In light of the increase, I think it would be prudent for us to take a look at it,” he said after the meeting. “I think we need to make sure that that’s still the proper policy for the utility board and make sure we can justify why.”

Bennett said the budget must be approved by the board by May 15.