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Sewer board continues to fight costly storm water issue

KINGWOOD — The Kingwood Sewer Board is looking ahead to Dec. 31, 2021, the deadline for it to meet mandated reductions in the amount of storm water entering the system.

If the plan approved in May 2009 by the Department of Environmental Protection  still stands at the deadline, the DEP will expect three holding tanks to be in place, Sewer Board Member Randy Plum said at Monday’s meeting.

Those tanks — to hold 1 million gallons, 250,000 gallons and 200,000 gallons of storm water — won’t be cheap, he said. 

The issue with having storm water in the sanitary sewers is that it ends up being treated along with sewage,  increasing operational costs  and sometimes causing overflows. While costs go up for treating storm water, no one is billed for the treatment because it isn’t entering the system in the same way sewerage does, through a meter. 

Plum suggested inviting a DEP representative to meet with the board before the deadline. Sewer Supervisor Nick Wolfe wondered if an amendment can be made to the plan.

Board Member Chuck Miller noted the town has been working to stop storm water from entering the sanitary sewer system, eliminating the need for the tanks.

Three phases of smoke testing in various parts of town have been conducted. The smoke shows where storm water from gutters, streets, lawns and homes is being diverted into sanitary sewers instead of into the storm sewer system.

Among the progress made includes when the city stopped a creek along Showerbath Road from flowing into the treatment plant. At times of heavy flow, an eight-inch stream of water entered the plant from the creek.

 As previously reported, at one point, during heavy rains, as much as 80% of the water going into the Kingwood sewage treatment plant was storm water.

“That water is coming from someplace,” Plum said. “And at some point, our smoke testing is going to define some major violations. Either that or we’re going to find a creek flowing into there.”

Phase 4 and 5 of smoke testing is scheduled for 2021. Phase 4 will include Albright Road from the Chinese restaurant up W.Va. 7 to the auto parts store, behind St. Sebastian  Catholic Church and along one side of High Street.

Wolfe said he can gather data from at least 2013 to compare with the present to show how much storm water has been eliminated from entering the treatment plant.

If Kingwood can show “significant improvement” in storm water infiltration, the DEP may be willing to modify the permit to eliminate the holding tanks, Plum said.

The board also:

  •  agreed to switch to AT&T First Net cell phones for workers.
  •  gave each sewer board worker $25, the amount per person that would have been spent on a Christmas party, which won’t be held this year because of COVID-19.
  •  discussed advertising for an engineering firm.

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