by TRISH RUDDER
At the September 12 Warm Springs Public Service District (WSPS) meeting, board members decided a proposed sanitary system improvement project needs further discussion and work sessions are being planned.
Mike Jenkins, who chairs the public sewer board, said that the committee wanted an overall report of the health of the system from Thrasher Engineering to learn where the problems were coming from. Inflow and infiltration is a major concern for the utility.
Commonly referred to “I&I”, inflow is water or sewage draining directly into the sewer line through a sewer connection, and infiltration is the seepage of ground water into the sewer system or into loose sewer connections or leaky manholes. Infiltration is worsened by heavy rain.
Jenkins said when the area is dry, an average of about 250,000 gallons of sewage a day flows into the system. Anything over the 250,000 gallons is water.
Along with Jenkins, PSD employee Monty Kerns, Manager Scott Crunkleton and board members Thomas “Tucker” Steinbaugh, and Charles Johnson attended the meeting. The plant’s chief operator, Terry Cross, Steve Buchanan of Thrasher Engineering, Executive Director, Bill Clark and Environmental Program Coordinator, Matt Pennington of Region 9, and Del. Daryl Cowles, who is also the Morgan County EDA director, attended.
The system has a 1.7 million gallon capacity, Cross said, and the recent heavy rains caused the sewage flow to increase more than the system was designed for. With heavy flooded rains, the flow rate went from 500,000 gallons of water to 4 million gallons in a few minutes, Cross said.
Buchanan told the committee that tests were conducted by Thrasher in the areas of Biser Street, NAPA and McDonalds. Addressing these three areas “will not necessarily make improvements,” to the system, Buchanan said. He suggested that additional testing in the entire area needs to be done.
Cross said more flow-metered testing needs to be done.
“A comprehensive plan on I&I over a 10-year period is a better strategy,” he said. He suggested the WSPS buy three meters and perform the I&I testing themselves. “They can be reused for I&I in Great Cacapon,” Cross said.
Buchanan agreed that the WSPS could buy its own meters and use them over time to study comprehensively.
Jenkins said the committee needs a comprehensive assessment of the system before adding more customers south of town. He said any sewer lines going south have to have water lines with it. He asked Cowles to look into grant money.
Cross said there was so much infiltrated water that it pushes up the manholes. “Why would we extend the lines south and put more water on the line?”, he said.
Cowles said when improvements were made on U.S. 522 in the Morgan Square area with McDonalds there, it created new jobs and economic development. “The plant runs at less than half capacity. I&I is a great project and we can’t extend lines until that’s done,” Cowles said.
Bill Clark said the WSPS committee needs work sessions to discuss how to proceed. He said the Town of Bath has applied for a $1.5 million water replacement line project through a Small Cities Block Grant. Clark suggested the WSPS apply for grants and “a total plan is needed to strategize.”
“We were told not to extend lines south until we fix the I&I problem,” board member Johnson said.
Pennington said since the WSPS is dealing with a stormwater issue, and stormwater is going into the plant, they could find willing partners in town to help with that. “Treat stormwater at the upper watershed and apply for grant funding,” he suggested.
Jenkins said later he welcomes working with other agencies to help combat the problem.