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Denver Water Association wants to join with Kingwood

KINGWOOD – The Denver Water Association is asking Kingwood Water Works to take it over.

It’s a decision that’s been thrust upon them, attorney Sheila Williams told the Kingwood Water Works board at its meeting Tuesday.

Denver, which serves about 143 customers, has applied for funding to upgrade its system through the West Virginia Infrastructure & Jobs Development Council (IJDC). The plan is to add a pumping station, new lines and a storage tank, Williams said.

Denver, which serves an unincorporated area, buys its water from the Town of Tunnelton water system, which buys the water from Rowlesburg. Tunnelton buys the water for $2.35 per 1,000 gallons and charges Denver $6.85 per 1,000 gallons, Williams said.

“IJDC does not like to put money into such small water entities,” Williams said, and kicked the application to its Consolidation Committee.

“So the Consolidation Committee at first recommended that Tunnelton take over Denver. Well, there’s been issues in the past between Denver and Tunnelton, and at a meeting they had, Tunnelton didn’t want to go forward at that time.”

So Denver is turning to Kingwood. The State Public Service Commission (PSC) would have to approve any merger, and Williams said PSC attorney Jonathan Fowler praised the Kingwood system, “and he thinks it’s a great idea,” she said.

There would not be any money exchange in the acquisition, Williams said. Bradly Pigott of Pigott & Associates engineers, which is designing Denver’s project, said Kingwood and Denver’s lines are about 500 feet apart. The tie in would be on Senior Drive or Mankins Road.

The $1.3 million project Denver is working on would include a master meter line to Kingwood’s lines, three fire hydrants, replacing about 50% of the trunk lines – which are 2 and 4 inches – with 6-inch lines, and an 88,000-gallon storage tank.

Funding is anticipated as being a $942,000 loan and $375,000 grant.

If Denver stays as a customer of Tunnelton, it would also need to add a new pumping station to the project, an additional $400,000-$500,000 cost.

Kingwood Water Board President Bob DeRiggi said the board needs to research the acquisition, similar to what it did before taking over Public Service District No. 2. The board asked Tim Rice of Potesta & Associates, Inc., to give it an estimate on doing that feasibility report.

“The consideration’s there. We just need a little bit more information,” DeRiggi said.

Board Member Bill Robertson asked if Tunnelton definitely does not want to acquire Denver. Yes, Williams said, but it’s likely Tunnelton will contest the acquisition before the PSC “because they’re losing $4.50 per gallon. But it’s also highway robbery, and if they contest it, PSC’s going to reduce that rate.”

Denver can cover the costs of fighting the contest. The costs of its improvement project would be handled through a rate increase to Denver customers only, similar to how the cost of the current PSD No. 2 project is being borne by PSD No. 2 customers, not Kingwood’s, Williams said.

Denver customers currently pay $52.52. per month for 4,000 gallons, Pigott said.

Denver’s largest customer is South Preston School.