MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) is moving forward with upgrades to the Cheat Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant. The upgrades would come with the first rate increase since 2014 for Cheat Lake area customers, which could be as much as 90 percent.

General Manager Mike McNulty said the project scope includes upgrades to the Cheat Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant and improvements to the Whites Run and Greystone pumping stations.

“The $39.6 million will include all the construction, engineering, cost of the bonds, and the total project cost we’ll be looking at,” McNulty said.

Until bids are opened in September, the actual cost of the project will not be known. McNulty does know there’s a large volume of work already underway statewide, and many contractors are very busy, increasing the possibility that bids could come in higher than thought.

“This is if the opinion of costs holds; we’re looking at borrowing about $30.2 million,” McNulty said.

Growth in the area over the last 20 years has pushed the plant to near capacity, and during some intense rain events, plant capacity is exceeded. This upgrade will add enough capacity for the next 20 years of growth.

“The plant is being upgraded from 750,000 gallons per day to 1.75 million gallons per day,” McNulty said.

The funding sources for the project are an Economic Enhancement Grant of $6.75 million from the American Rescue Plan through the West Virginia Water Development Authority. To use those funds, the project must be under contract by Dec. 31. MUB will also receive a $30 million loan at 2 percent for 30 years.

“We’ve attended the Morgantown City Council Committee of the Whole meeting to talk about the project and gave them a presentation,” McNulty said. “The council is aware we’re going to come back to them to talk about rates and financing, and that will all probably happen in September,” McNulty said.

The project is on track for a Sept. bid date and a start date in December, and the two-year project should be completed in June of 2027. McNulty hopes the remaining processes produce the results needed to keep the project on schedule.

“We certainly expect everything to go through; everything will happen,” McNulty said. “But  if a moratorium had to be issued and we had to delay the project for a year or two, you could be looking at a significant cost increase just in inflation.”

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