MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. Recently, Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Water Development Authority (WDA) awarded $19.8 million from the Economic Enhancement Fund for 10 projects in the state. The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) received $6,750,000 in that round of grants for improvements and upgrades to the Cheat Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) and Whites Run Lift Station.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” MUB assistant general manager and chief engineer Rich Rogers said the grant takes a significant bite out of the total estimated project cost of $30 million, reducing the eventual impact on rate payers.

“We’re trying everything we can to reduce the impact on our rate payers out there in the Cheat Lake area associated with this project, and this will go a long way in making sure that happens,” Rogers said.

In the late 1990’s, MUB took ownership and operational responsibility for the facilities and completed a major expansion and construction of the Whites Run Lift Station in 2001. Today, continued growth has the plant operating over the design capacity and Rogers estimates population in the area will continue to grow at least three percent annually.

“At times, we run over the design capacity of that plant,” Rogers said. So, this increases capacity and allows for continued growth out there.”

Strand Associates, Inc., has completed the preliminary design work and is working on the final design and permitting. Rogers hopes that once work begins, the project will be complete in about 18 months.

“We’re expecting to bid on the project in August of this year, or in August or September, with construction starting in December,” Rogers said.
“That’s the latest schedule we have.”

Grant funding and low-interest loans will lessen the impact on rate payers, and the next source could be through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), according to Rogers.

“There will be a portion of this cost that will be in the form of a loan,” Rogers said. “The WIFIA program allows us to get better terms, the best terms we can, and that’s another way we can help control the impact out there.”

When the project is complete, Rogers said residents in the area will notice a decrease in odor. Residents around the Star City WWTP noticed the same situation following the expansion and upgrade of that facility.

“A big part of the project is going to be to reduce and eliminate the odor and I think that will be the most notable thing people in the area will see,” Rogers said