PUB gets update on projects to be funded by water rate hike

Parkersburg Utility Board Manager Eric Bennett speaks during Tuesday’s regular meeting at the PUB offices. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — A proposed water rate increase is expected to be presented to the Parkersburg Utility Board and to City Council this year.

PUB Manager Eric Bennett updated board members on the status of five projects in the design phase. Their construction would be funded by the increase, for which an amount has yet to be determined.

“I’ll be discussing the possible rate increase with the mayor, and then it will be brought before you all and council,” he said.

Mayor Tom Joyce is the chairman of the Utility Board. The water and sewer utility is a separate entity from the city, but its rates are subject to City Council approval.

The base charge for most customers in $10.50, with a volume charge of $5.44 per 1,000 gallons. That rate was approved by council in 2010 and was phased in over three years, with the last step going into effect July 1, 2012.

The board in 2019 approved an agreement, with a cost not to exceed $1,428,000, for local engineering firm Burgess & Niple to provide design, bidding and other services during and after construction for multiple projects. They include replacing approximately 36,400 lineal feet of 6- to 12-inch water mains, replacing approximately 20,000 lineal feet of 2-inch and smaller water mains with 6- and 4-inch mains, building a new booster station and storage tank to improve service pressure and fire protection in south Parkersburg and rehabilitating the backwash basin at the water treatment plant.

The water main preparation stands at 90 percent complete for the smaller lines and 80 percent for the larger ones, according to a memo Bennett provided to board members. The utility is in the process of acquiring rights of way to place the new lines.

Property for the booster station near 12th Avenue and Division Street was purchased for $8,000, while the Wood County Board of Education last month approved the donation of land behind one of Parkersburg South High School’s buildings for the storage tank.

The backwash basin, where particles settle out of water used to clean the treatment plant’s filters, needs piping and valve replacements and other structural changes to improve its functionality, Bennett said.

“That basin was … part of the previous plant that was retained for use in the new plant that was built in the ’80s,” he said.

Plans for the replacement of a boiler and hot water system for the water treatment plant are 90 percent complete, while a risk and resilience assessment mandated by federal law is half done, according to the memo Bennett provided board members. Those projects are being handled by Burgess & Niple under separate contracts and will not be funded by the rate increase.

The water rate increase is unrelated to a projected $16 million project to replace two pumping stations with intercepting sewer lines. That is expected to eventually require a sewer rate increase.


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