MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The statewide fire hydrant survey has been completed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and released some recommendations, including a 10-year, $70 million plan to replace aging hydrants.

The survey began after multiple hydrants used during a Charleston house fire were unable to maintain the pressure needed to adequately fight the blaze.

The PSC report concluded that many public utilities don’t test hydrants, calling into question their serviceability. The report also said many hydrants are aging and the replacement frequency should be increased.

Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) General Manager Mike McNulty told board members they test hydrants regularly and sometimes involve local firefighters in those tests. MUB has complied with the requests during the survey.

“As far as the Morgantown Utility Board goes, we are confident in the work we’ve completed, and we often work with the Morgantown Fire Department,” McNulty said.

McNulty said MUB has more than 1,000 hydrants and will assume ownership of another 130 when they take control of the Cheat View Public Service District. MUB maintains about twice the average number of hydrants maintained by utilities across the state.

“We are checking our hydrants every year, and we make sure they are in operating condition, and we are very pleased by that,” McNulty said. “We have about 1,065 hydrants.”

While not providing an exact number, McNulty said they were hydrants over 50 years old in their system but remained confident based on their test regimen. When the time comes to replace those aging hydrants, McNulty estimates they will cost about $10,000 each.

“We do have hydrants that are over 50 years old, and that’s one of the things they’re looking at in the 10-year replacement plan,” McNulty said.

Periodically, the Insurance Services Office conducts fire flow tests in the MUB service area. When those tests are being conducted, the fire department is included, so the condition of the hydrants is known across multiple agencies.

“We work with them on that and make sure those ratings are what those hydrants will flow,” McNulty said. “I think the fire department bands the hydrants and codes them accordingly.”

The MUB portion of the survey was completed in-house by MUB Engineer Cory Jones.

“It just once again shows the professionalism of the staff, what a good job they do, and what we’re doing here at the Morgantown Utility Board,” McNulty said.