PSD vote changes location of proposed facility
The Pocahontas County Public Service District is one step closer to its waste water treatment facility at Snowshoe. Last week board members voted to change the proposed location of the treatment center based on new information it received recently.
According to PSD board president Tom Shipley, the proposed plan involves building a new plant at Snowshoe Village and modifying an existing facility behind the Inn at Snowshoe. The last design would have been located at what has come to be known as site 7A, at the Hawthorne Loop.
"The only thing we changed was the place," said Shipley. "We're going to purchase a couple extra acres behind the Inn at Snowshoe and make that a state-of-the-art membrane technology plant."
Shipley said the new site will expedite the permit process, and that was a determining factor in the board's vote last week.
"Delay has been a big buzz word for the last year or two. We want to get a plant in the ground. I think a big part of the vote was the fact that this site had already received its clearances for geotechnical work on the soils," Shipley said. "[West Virginia Division of] Culture and History gave us a clearance - not the case on the other sites."
Shipley said there was a consensus in the community regarding the site when it was first proposed earlier in the year.
"No one objected to it at all," he said. "In fact, one of the complainants actually negotiated with us and we created an option to purchase his property."
According to Shipley, Bob Coontz, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection engineer reviewed the project and indicated that with new information on the table, a new vote should be considered.
"Mr. Coontz, of the DEP, told us that since new information would be before the board at the June 12 meeting, it would be absolutely appropriate if the board changed the project, which we did," explained Shipley.
Shipley said the DEP and West Virginia Public Service Commission have been working with the PSD to get the project approved.
"At the May 3rd meeting Mr. Coontz came down and met with Waste Water Management for the better part of a day," he said. "Then we had a special work session after that where he told us that we were very close. They had gone over every one of the DEP/PSC comments and he said that he was confident that we wanted to move forward, and he would work with us."
One of the comments from the DEP/PSC filing called for a lower waste load allocation than the PSD proposal originally requested. Shipley said there was good reason for the order.
"A plant cannot operate efficiently if it's built too large and there's low biologic loading," Shipley said.
Waste Water Management Inc. engineer Dr. David Rigby and director of engineering Nick Josties talked with board members during a telephone conference call at the PSD meeting last week.
"If you have a treatment plant that is sized for one thing, but you have a lot less flow, it's very difficult to make a biological system work efficiently," Rigby said.
Shipley said there are other additional benefits to the new site.
"We already have existing [rights-of-way] behind the Inn at Snowshoe plant to the receiving stream," Shipley said. "We have an existing and uncontested right-of-way for the effluent line. That's a big deal. We also have an existing effluent release point there already so it's possible that we could only have to modify that permit instead of creating a new one."
Shipley said the board is one step closer to making the project a reality.
"The possibility for delays has lessened substantially. If there are no intervenors or no complainants, it is possible that after the notice of the project is posted, the PSC can waive the hearing."
During the public comment period at last week's meeting, prior to the vote, four area residents spoke in favor of the decentralized alternative.