Town’s pipe project nearly done, already cutting water losses
The Town of Bath’s second major water pipe replacement project is coming to a close, after several months of digging and connecting new services for homes and businesses along the public water line.
The project was largely funded by stimulus money from the federal government through West Virginia Bureau of Public Health and the Infrastructure Council.
Terry Largent, the town’s Water Works manager, gave council the good news that water consumption has dropped steadily since the new pipes have been connected.
At the October 5 council meeting, Largent said the town is now losing roughly 29-30% of its water due to water leaks. Previously, the town had lost more than 55% of its treated water into the ground. The Water Works may have saved more than 40 million gallons of water during the last fiscal year, Largent said.
For the last few months, since many of the new pipes have been functioning, the water plant has been pumping about 12 million gallons per month – nearly half of the rate during the previous year.
Still a ban on new taps
Mayor Susan Webster addressed the question of the town’s ban on any new water taps, which has held up some residential and business development for several years.
“The question on everyone’s mind is ‘What is about the moratorium?’” Webster said.
She said the state’s Public Service Commission, which oversees public utilities, set the ban in motion and will be the ones to remove it once they review water capacity reports from the Water Works.
Largent estimated that won’t happen until next summer, since the agency wants to see that town water usage stays at a steady rate.
Councilman Jim Slough said the town shouldn’t be in a hurry to add a bunch of new water customers, then find that the water plant doesn’t have the capacity to meet the water demand.
With money that was held in reserve for contingencies associated with the project, the Water Works will now extend new lines to a few locations that had not been part of the pipe project – specifically on Laurel Hill, Harrison Avenue and a northern section of Washington Street. Old leaking lines will be replaced by new 2” water pipe there.
The water department will also invest in hand-held electronic devices to read water meters, Largent said last month.
New billing system
In preparation for billing water customers on a monthly basis, instead of every three months, the water department and town are seeking new billing and tracking software for their computers.
Appalachian Software has a package the town likes, but state law requires the council to put their purchase requirements out for public bid because the computer program will likely cost more than $25,000.
The town is looking for software to manage water and trash billing, payroll, to track water usage and produce regular reports for state and federal agencies. Town officials expect the computer package to cost roughly $40,000.
Finance chair David Crosby proposed the town and water department divide the cost according to the number of customers on the billing system. If water customers account for 60% of the total bills being processed, the water department will pay 60% of the cost of the software.
Council agreed that was a fair way to pay for the program.
Town clerk Margie Allgyer has urged the council to install the software and complete the transfer of billing information by the end of the year.
Congress Street repair
During their October 5 meeting, the town’s Public Works committee approved a bid from U.S. Paving, LLC for $4,800 to pave the section of Congress Street between U.S. 522 and Wilkes Street. There are significant potholes on the street in front of Atasia Spa and Richard Gay’s law office. Town officials said the work should be done by November.
Another Public Works project on the horizon could address the lack of handicapped access to the Town of Bath’s Police Department, which is on the second floor of the municipal building. People wanting to pay parking tickets or apply for a building permit can only get to the office up a flight of concrete steps. Mayor Webster said the town will ask Thrasher engineer Randy Watson to look at possible solutions to the access problem.
Seeking Tree Board members
Town officials are asking members of the public to serve on the town’s Tree Board, which has recently become inactive. Members don’t have to reside inside the town limits. In previous years, the Tree Board has helped maintain trees along town streets, taken down dying or unsafe trees and supervised the planting of new trees on public property. Anyone interested in the board should contact the town office at 304-258-1102.