PSD seeks stay on discharge limits
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently renewed the Pocahontas Public Service District's (PSD) water discharge permit for the Silver Creek wastewater plant, which contains allowable limits for a variety of substances.
The DEP is demanding an action plan by May 28, describing how the PSD plans to meet the discharge limits. The PSD board thinks the limits might be too stringent and wants more time for Potesta and Associates, Inc. (Potesta) to complete a study of the wastewater effluent from the Silver Creek plant.
Potesta recently began work on the study, which seeks to determine the level of dissolved, as opposed to solid, metals in the wastewater effluent. Dissolved metals are much less dangerous to the environment. If Potesta's study shows significant levels of dissolved metals, the PSD could negotiate less stringent metals limits in their permit and save the utility money.
In order to get more time, the PSD board voted 2-0, during its April 26 regular meeting at Linwood Library, to hire noted Charleston environmental attorney Allyn Turner to make a case for them at the West Virginia Environmental Quality Control Board (EQB). Board member Amon Tracey was not present, due to illness.
The attorney will seek a stay on enforcement of limits for metals and percent suspended solids in the Silver Creek permit, until more data is available.
The towns of Hillsboro and Marlinton were successful last year with an appeal to the EQB to eliminate phosphorus limits in their water discharge permits. Following an EQB declaration that the DEP had "not used sound science" in establishing the phosphorus limit, the state legislature removed phosphorus limits from water quality legislation this year.
Thrasher engineering representative Ken Tyre told the board that work on the Bartow-Frank-Durbin water project was progressing, but hampered by bad weather. Tyre said contractor J.F. Allen Company had discovered and repaired nine leaks, including a major leak in Durbin and another in Frank. PSD water operations manager Ricky Barkley estimated the worst leak had been losing 40,000 to 50,000 gallons per day.
Tyre said most work had been completed in Durbin and Frank except for along the main road - Route 250. The engineer said additional coordination needed to be done with the Division of Highways (DOH) in Elkins. DOH informed the PSD before work began that the utility would have to pay for paving the entire road, not just places where the contractor had to dig. Tyre said work along Route 250 in both Frank and Durbin had been postponed until the issue with DOH had been resolved.
As of April 26, J.F. Allen Company had completed 38 new water meters and hookups.
The board reviewed an invoice from Region IV Planning and Development Council with W.D. Smith, Region IV executive director. Region IV provides technical and administrative assistance to public utilities in Nicholas, Greenbrier, Webster,Fayette and Pocahontas counties.
The invoice included a bill from accountant Michael Griffith, submitted to Region IV for work completed more than two years ago. Smith said it was unusual for Region IV to receive an invoice two years after the fact.
Board chairman Tom Shipley said he wanted to make sure the bill was not a duplicate and the board tabled action on payment until next month's meeting.
The board approved an expenditure of $21,673 for the purchase of items in the wastewater operations capital improvement plan. The money will be used to purchase laboratory cabinets, a Sigma all-weather water sampler and guide rails for a lift station pump at Shamrock.
In other business, the PSD board:
- approved an expenditure of $4,500 to hire Potesta to prepare a scope of services for the design of an engineered wetland, near the Silver Creek plant, for the enhancement of water quality.
- approved the financial statement for April, which indicated expenditures of $84,336.21 and receipts of $62,271.96 under the sewer account and expenditures of $11,329.97 and receipts of $797.76 under the water account.
The next regular PSD meeting is scheduled for May 31, 7 p.m., location to be announced.