Lewis County moving forward with projects to expand water service

WESTON, W.Va. — In an area where roughly half of the residents are not on a water system, the Lewis County Commission is taking on projects aimed at delivering reliable water.

“We were able to actually get some grant funding and we have about 10 million dollars worth of water projects this coming year and the following year to put throughout the county,” Agnes Queen, commission president said. “We’re hoping to get more water throughout the county.

Similar projects have been in the works since 2008. However, they could not progress after West Virginia American Water ended its practice of public partnerships –working with Public Service Districts and other agencies on water projects– after 35 years when they were denied a rate increase.

Eight agencies, including Lewis County filed a lawsuit against the company in hopes of reinstating the partnerships.

The county was able to receive funding in the meantime.

“Due to the lawsuit, we kept getting kicked out of the grant program and [projects] wouldn’t be funded,” Queen said. “There were several different areas where we got funding through; the small cities block, [the West Virginia Infrastructure & Jobs Development Council] and abandoned land mine money.”

The Public Service Commission ruled in favor of the eight agencies roughly one year ago.

Queen speculates the most recent projects will help out quite a few residents.

“We’re looking at about 200, 150-200 homes that we know that we’re going to get water too and it depends on which areas we’re in,” she said. “The areas that we’re going into are more sparse. You have little groups of homes here and there.”

The county will have a better estimate once Water User Agreement are filled out and Queen foresees a scenario where the projects leads to more agreements being signed.

“Once we get water to those areas, you’ll see more housing going up and more development, and that’s the goal.”