MUB board begins approval process for River Road PSD acquisition

MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown Utility Board’s acquisition of the River Road Public Service District is through the first of several needed approvals following Monday’s meeting of the MUB board.

General Manager Tim Ball explained that he will now take the issue to Morgantown City Council. From there, approvals will also be needed from the Monongalia County Commission and the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

MUB has been operating the RRPSD — to which it already provides treated water — through an operating and maintenance agreement since shortly after the PSD approached the county commission last summer about relinquishing control to MUB.

It was explained that the PSD lacked the resources to continue to manage and staff the system.

Ball said the acquisition will not result in any rate changes for MUB customers in the River Road district or elsewhere.

MUB will freeze the rates of the 780 or so River Road customers for the next 27 years — the remainder of a 30-year, $3 million bond for which those customers are paying a surcharge. Ball said that once that outstanding debt is expired, the River Road rates will match that of other MUB customers.

“We are not proposing any change in rates for River Road customers,” Ball said. “Our policy has always been … that we will lock those rates in for the duration of any outstanding long-term debt that the PSD has.”

Tom Aman of Steptoe & Johnson has been secured as bond counsel for the acquisition.

In other MUB news, wet weather has put the construction of the George B. Flegal Dam and Reservoir along Cobun Creek about 12 weeks behind schedule, according to Ball.

Ball said the nearly $50 million project is about six percent complete based on expenditures.

The installation of the raw water pipeline that will connect the reservoir to the treatment facility is about 25 percent complete, which equates to about 4,900 feet of installed pipe.

A portion of that pipeline will run beneath I-68.

“Think of that, nearly 1,200 feet of 42-inch diameter hole under I-68. That’s a pretty remarkable thing,” Ball said.

As for the $101 million overhaul of MUB’s wastewater treatment plant, Ball explained that through change order negotiations MUB “effectively sold” the contractor 130 days of additional time, moving the substantial completion date from May 6, 2020 to Sept. 13, 2020.

Lastly, 7,400 of a total of 8,100 feet of pipe has been installed for the Rockley Road water line extension, in the Cheat Lake area.

Ball said the water system should be in service by the end of the month, but final paving won’t be complete until the weather warms up.

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