MAN, W.Va. — In the past year, towns in Michigan have gotten quite a bit of attention due to water problems. Flint, in particular has caused nation-wide ire and consternation thanks to lead water lines installed decades ago that have lead to a water-contamination problem in recent years.
The town of Man has it’s own problems with it’s own water lines and just like Flint Michigan those problems go back many, many decades. Over fifty years ago, the water lines were installed in Man and over time new lines were added over the older lines in the system. To make matters worse, some of those lines were made of Terra Cotta which began crumbling as the decades wore on. This has meant that over those same years the town has had a major problem with loss of water pressure and a massive loss of water as well.
On top of that problem another situation now exists. Man Mayor Jim Blevins explained Monday night that the town has been paying around $100,000 a year in wastewater treatment bills to the Buffalo Creek PSD to treat rainwater that goes into the BC PSD’s collection meters.
“Last month our bill was $19,000,” Mayor Blevins explained. “If we have a bad spring with a lot of rain, its gonna be more huge bills just like that.”
Several years ago the town began asking residents to remove their rain guttering lines from the sewage collection drains. At that time the towns’ water department also began doing smoke testing in order to see where water was being lost as well as to locate any lines that had not been removed from the drains yet.
A few months ago Jesse Alden of the Thrasher Group spoke to the town council of Man about these and other water related problems and the possible sollution in regards to a three phase project to deal with them. Phase I would be to identify the areas where rainwater and other sources of water are going into the sewage treatment lines and to remove those lines, which is expected to bring the wastewater treatment bills from Buffalo Creek Public Service District down dramatically. Other phases of the project would include mapping of the entire system to see exactly where the different lines are located and to replace those lines. That part of the proposed project is prohibitively expensive, and in effect would be a several million dollar project. To make matters worse, the town has been denied grant assistance from the Federal Government in the past due to the strange combination of residents of parts of the town having higher than average incomes several years ago and still having some of the lowest water rates in the state. The combination has knocked man out of grant funding in the past and could continue to do so currently.
Other options the town could look into would include just purchasing water from the Buffalo Creek PSD or the Logan PSD and shutting down it’s own water plant. These options would most likely also lead to rate increases for residents.
The town has also been told it will have to come up with a back up water source in the aftermath of a huge chemical spill in Charleston a few years ago.
In other Man news, Mayor Blevins informed the council on Monday evening that they needed to utilize part of the $10,000 the town had set aside for emergencies in order to purchase an emergency pump for the town’s water system. Blevins noted that the old pump has been repaired several times and that he wantetd a new one on hand and ready in the event of a problem.
The council also approved its annual donation to the Buffalo Creek Memorial Library.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer for Civitas Media and a retired reporter for The Logan Banner. He can be reached by calling 304-752-6950.