Bath council agrees to study water line extension down U.S. 522

by Trish Rudder

The Bath Town Council voted to approve the study to determine if it is feasible for the town-owned Berkeley Springs Water Works (BSWW) to extend its water lines down U.S. 522.

The sewer department, Warm Springs Public Service District, wants to extend its lines down U.S. 522 and wants the town’s public water system, BSWW, to extend its lines as well.

Morgan County Commissioner Sean Forney, who wants both lines extended to increase business growth, met with the water department on July 12 and Bath Councilman Chris Chapman, who chairs the water committee, said Forney would meet with the council on July 27.

At the July 27 council meeting, after hearing the proposal by Commissioner Forney, BSWW plant manager, Ron Jainniney said the town has never been close to securing a secondary water source as now.

“It’s the time to do it,” he said.

Mayor Scott Merki said based on Jainniney’s recommendation to look at the project, and the possibility of securing a secondary water source, “we must do a study to know if it is feasible for us.”

“It sounds a lot better now,” Merki said after hearing Forney’s presentation and Jainniney’s approval.

One of the selling points was the fact that the county has received its federal ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding and has enough money to go forward with the project. ARP money is specifically designated for infrastructure projects.

There would be no cost to the town for the preliminary engineering, Chapman had said.

The package plan would offer both sewer and water lines, said Forney.

“I don’t know if we’ll see another federal funding like this,” he said. “We need to strike while the iron’s hot.”

Susan Webster said that infrastructure is needed close to town, and Merki said he wanted to “grow our town limits with maybe a $3 million project.”

Webster sits on the Morgan County Economic Development Authority with Forney.

Forney said there is a big push to grow the rural areas in West Virginia.

Jainniney said the Berkeley Springs Water Works has been working on a secondary water source. He said the springs, the town’s water source, “could dry up – it could happen.” He said he would like to extend the water lines going east on Fairfax Street. “I would like to do that.”

But Jainniney agreed with Commissioner Forney about getting the federal funding and moving forward with the study.  He also agreed with Merki, who doesn’t want to impact the town’s water source.

“We’d have to have another plant out there,” Jainniney said.

Merki said that Jainniney is in favor “as long as it does not raise rates on our customers.”

Chapman asked Commissioner Forney when they would know that.  Forney said they would know more once the preliminary engineering report (PER) is complete.

Forney said on Monday that the cost for a preliminary engineering report could cost between $15,000 and $35,000.There is no cost to the town, he said.

If the project goes forward, Forney and members of the local sewer board have said the cost would roughly be $3 million each for the sewer and water line extensions.

Forney said he has been writing letters to federal and state entities seeking help with funding. He said he has asked U.S. Senator Manchin and Senator Capito for $1 million each to help fund this expansion project.