Paw Paw gets $1.3 million grant for sewer upgrade
The Town of Paw Paw has been awarded a Small Cities Block Grant of $1.3 million from the West Virginia Development Office for sewer line improvements. Funding for the block grants comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the state.
The $1.8 million project will replace sewer lines in the lower end of town along Winchester Street back to Lee Street from the railroad cut down to the Potomac River, said Town of Paw Paw Recorder Regina Brack.
There are a few other trouble spots around town where the lines will also be replaced. Around 175 households will benefit.
The town’s current sewer system has received notice of violations from the Department of Environmental Protection. The grant will help bring the town into compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Initiative, she said.
Repair costs high
The sewer lines have been in place since the 1930s. The town has had to repair the lines a lot, Brack said. The repair costs are exorbitant. They were glad to get the grant because it will alleviate a lot of the expense of having to repair the sewer lines, she said.
The sewer lines leak and crack when tree roots and things grow into them, Brack said. They have to hire companies to rotor root the growth out of the pipes, she said. It’s a major job and the town can’t handle it with their equipment.
The town applied for the Small Cities Block Grant two years ago, Brack said. They received a $200,000 grant from the West Virginia Development Office in 2008, which they used to hire Thrasher Engineering to do the project design and planning work.
The Paw Paw sewer project’s total cost is $2 million with the design grant included, said Jeanna Bailes, West Virginia Development Office manager, project development. The maximum grant award from their office is $1.5 million.
The Town of Paw Paw will seek a $500,000 loan for the remaining project cost from the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council, Bailes said.
Thrasher Engineering project engineer Matt Fluharty said that the project will go out to bid in the summer. The design and planning work is finished and the project is ready to go, Brack said. It could begin as early as next fall.
Preliminary paperwork has to be done and they have to hire a certified public accountant or an attorney, Brack said.
Rate increase on horizon
The town is beginning the process for a water and sewer rate increase, she said. A request for a rate hike has to be filed with the Public Service Commission. Public notice and public hearings are part of the process, which will take several months.
The town’s water and sewer department barely breaks even every month, Brack said. The expense of trying to maintain the system has been a major factor. They will also have to pay back the future sewer project loan.
A state priority
The Paw Paw sewer line replacement project is one of 31 critical infrastructure projects across West Virginia that received more than $17.7 million in Small Cities Block Grant funding.
Governor Joe Manchin said in a press release that it was one of his highest priorities to provide the needed infrastructure to make the state a safe and healthy place to live.
“By providing vital access to clean, adequate water and reliable sewer facilities, we can promote future economic development and improve the quality of life for our residents,” Manchin said.