PSD project creeps one step closer
Engineers from Waste Water Management, Inc. met with members of the Pocahontas County Public Service District last week to update them on the proposed wastewater facility project at Snowshoe. Earlier in the day, WWMI engineers Nick Josties, Rich Brannan and Dr. David Rigby met with representatives from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
"Dr. Rigby had just finished a design conference with Bob Koontz from the DEP," explained PSD president Tom Shipley. "They were reviewing the timeline for completion and the different phases of engineering that have to be done in a certain sequence."
Shipley said they also talked about three additional items Rigby wanted to add to the facilities plan.
"One of them was having to do with contracts, putting out the bid and a couple of other minor details," Shipley said. "That's what the meeting was for, to get all the t's crossed and the i's dotted. Now, we'll get that facilities plan ironed out, and at some point in the near future, we'll present our plan to the Public Service Commission. When it's approved, we'll put the project out to bid and we'll get started."
Shipley said one of the last hurdles the PSD has to clear is obtaining a letter of clearance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"There are three species — two endangered and one species of concern — in that area," Shipley said. "What we did is we hired a biologist to survey the area and give us a report on whether or not he thought the area our project would be is a habitat for these species."
Shipley said the report came back indicating there were potential areas of habitat at the site.
"But then he did an on-site survey and didn't see any actual critters," said Shipley. "He relayed all that information to the Fish and Wildlife Service. They came back with a letter saying as far as they could tell, from records and studies being done, there would be no or little effect."
"The flying squirrel was talked about at great length because it was taken off the endangered list," Shipley said. "Then it was put back on, now they're going to take it off again. That all happened in less than a year-and-a-half's time. They said 'please know that next week, the squirrel is slated to be taken off the list.' What they were saying is it won't matter anymore, but as of then, the day of that letter, they had to keep that in there."
The other two species of concern are the Cheat Mountain salamander and the Indiana bat.
"The next item up is the finding of no significant impact — the FONSI," Shipley said. "That will be coming soon. What that entails, the DEP puts together a report based on the information they receive. They issue a finding of impact or a finding of no significant impact. If it's a FONSI, they will attach that to the facilities plan and that will be presented to the Public Service Commission. Also, the public will be notified about that plan and there will be thirty days for the public to make comments in regards to the environment."
Shipley said things are coming along for the wastewater project.
"I'm pleased with the progress that we're making," offered Shipley. "We're going to have shovels in the ground before too long, and that's a good thing."