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Westover, MUB contemplate future of city’s municipal sewer system

The city of Westover is taking a long, hard look at the future of its sanitary sewer system.

The Morgantown Utility Board is going to be part of that future.

The question is, to what extent?

The Dominion Post reached out to representatives of both Westover and MUB this past week to ask if the city intends to turn management of its sanitary sewer system over to the utility board.

While there were no hard and fast answers, there are some things we already know.

One, the city of Westover has at least two large and expensive sanitary sewer projects looming.

Two, city officials met with MUB leadership this past week to discuss “the future of Westover’s sanitary sewer system,” according to MUB Spokesman Chris Dale.

And three, the city is weighing its options.

“Mayor [Bob] Lucci is gathering information and preparing an alternatives briefing for council,” City Attorney Tim Stranko said.

According to Stranko, the mayor intends to propose a capital project with three objectives — the repair and renewal of the Westover sewer system at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers; the security of quality water service for present and future city residents; and the protection of the Monongahela River and its tributaries from pollution.

“It’s too early in concept development to perform a cost/benefit report.  That will be completed after the administration receives further direction from council and comments from MUB and our city engineer [Doug Smith/Thrasher],” Stranko explained.

As was previously reported, about half of the current $3.9-million cost estimate for the Holland Avenue project is tied to the replacement of failing sewer and stormwater lines beneath the street.

The initial financing plan for that project includes, among other things, a two-phase rate increase for Westover sewer customers of about 20% and a $1.5-million loan through the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.

Once installed, those new pipes under Holland Avenue will deliver additional flows to what is essentially the failing heart of the entire Westover system.

In June, Smith told members of Westover City Council that the city’s No. 1 pump station needs to be replaced.

That station, located at the bottom of Dents Run, sends all flows out of Westover below the Monongahela River to meet up with the MUB system.

If that project were to start today, Smith added, it would likely cost between $3 million and $4 million.

Under the current setup, MUB provides water service to Westover and the city manages its own sewer and stormwater systems. MUB bills Westover’s 2,200 customers for water, sewer and garbage, then remits the sewer and garbage fees back to Westover. MUB then bills Westover for its flows into the utility’s treatment plant, in Star City. Granville’s setup is the same. Star City buys the water from MUB and handles its own billing.

“We have an extremely positive working relationship with Westover and openly discussed both opportunities and challenges to meeting its sewer needs,” Dale said of the recent meeting. “MUB is very much open to continuing our conversations with Westover to determine how Westover customers can best be served going forward.”

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