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Bath Town willing to pay more for water

June 29, 2005
by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Bath Town Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance raising water rates by nearly 20 percent.

The 19.28 percent increase will go into effect Jan. 1.

"This rate increase is necessary to pay the debt service on the bonds to be issued to upgrade the town's water system and replace the town's antiquated water lines," Mayor Susan Webster said.

Before the lines can be replaced, the money has to be in place, she said.

"This is the first step," Webster said.

There were 110 leaks repaired last year, she said.

Alan Marchun, environmental engineer with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said with more than 50 percent of the water being lost through the leaking pipes, there is an "increase in risk to contamination of the water with that many leaks," Marchun said.

Marchun said the Bureau of Health "strongly endorses the project and (is) glad to see it has come to fruition."

Webster said the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) will be sent a copy of the signed ordinance today.

The town-owned water department, Berkeley Springs Water Works, provides water to about 1,500 residences and businesses in Morgan County.

Nathan Cochran, an attorney with Richard Gay's office, the town's attorney, said "we can move forward now that the ordinance has passed."

Randy Watson, project manager for Thrasher Engineering, the town's engineering firm, said Thrasher will handle the bidding process and will make a recommendation to town officials.

He said the PSC has nine months to issue a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity to the town before the bidding process can begin.

"We hope it will go through faster than normal," Watson said.

Watson said the pipe replacement construction most likely "won't start until next spring - maybe a little in the winter," he said.

The Town of Bath is the local government inside Berkeley Springs.