Clean drinking water: Much-needed help for Mercer, McDowell

originally posted on March 13, 2016


It is critical for all families in our region to have access to a clean and reliable source of public drinking water. That’s why we applaud last week’s announcement of the award of more than $1.4 million in Small Cities Black Grant funding for two important water projects in Mercer and McDowell counties.

In Mercer County, a $1,209,503 funding award announced by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will be used by the Mercer County Commission to help complete a $5.1 million project. The Oakvale Road Public Service District is working to extend water service to approximately 150 households in the Elgood area, including the communities of Elgood, Twin Oaks and Christian Ridge in eastern Mercer County.

The critically needed project will include the installation of new water lines, booster stations, a water storage tank and related improvements that are needed to provide safe drinking water to area residents.

The funding award also should help in getting water to Cheesy Creek, according to County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra. He estimated the completed system would bring water to approximately 165 families. Vinciguerra traveled to Charleston Tuesday with fellow commissioners Gene Buckner and Greg Puckett to accept the funding award.

In neighboring McDowell County, the town of Northfork was awarded $200,000 in Small Cities Block Grant funding. That Small Cities Block Grant award will be used as part of a larger $6.35 million project that involves the replacement of the existing water system that serves the Upland, Powhatan, Kyle, Northfork and Keystone communities. The project also will provide a second water source for the Maybeury Water Treatment Plant.

State officials estimate the project will serve approximately 400 households. Tomblin said the project replaces a water distribution system that has exceeded its useful life and is plagued by frequent line breaks and water loss.

On the federal level, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said he voted to increase funding above President Barack Obama’s original budget request to ensure the approval of the Smalls Cities Block Grant funding awards to Mercer and McDowell counties, and 11 other infrastructure improvement projects in West Virginia.

The two funding announcements for Mercer and McDowell counties are welcomed, and will help in providing clean drinking water to area residents in need. No family should be deprived of the basic necessity of clean and safe water. Having basic infrastructure such as public drinking water and sewer, along with high-speed broadband, is absolutely vital for future growth in these and other communities across our region.

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