MATOAKA, W.Va. (WOAY) – West Virginia American Water announced today the start of construction on a temporary water line to supply clean, reliable drinking water to the Town of Matoaka in Mercer County. Residents of Matoaka have faced persistent water quality issues for months due to a deteriorating water treatment plant as the town has struggled financially. The project will connect the town’s water distribution system with Lashmeet Public Service District’s water system, which is operated by West Virginia American Water and served by West Virginia American Water’s Bluestone Water Treatment Plant. This connection will allow for decommissioning the town’s failing water treatment plant and starting the process of funding and building a permanent water supply solution.
Over time, the Town of Matoaka has been unable to properly operate and maintain its water treatment plant or water distribution system, leading to numerous outages, poor water quality and a number of leaks. Earlier this year, the town discontinued basic municipal services and ultimately voted to unincorporated. Officials from Matoaka and the Mercer County Commission recently contacted West Virginia American Water requesting urgent assistance to prevent looming major disruptions of water service to Matoaka residents. West Virginia American Water petitioned the Public Service Commission of West Virginia last month for approval to build a temporary interconnection and enter into an emergency agreement to operate and maintain Matoaka’s water distribution system once the interconnection is complete. The request was approved by the PSC last week and was the result of cooperative efforts by West Virginia American Water, Lashmeet PSD, Mercer County Commission, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, PSC, West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council, Region 1 Planning and Development Council and Stafford Consultants.
“Throughout our company’s 130-year history in West Virginia, we have worked diligently to provide as many West Virginians as possible with clean, safe, reliable and affordable water service,” said Brian Bruce, president of West Virginia American Water. “When nearby communities are struggling, we step in to provide emergency assistance and technical expertise to help those communities find long-term solutions for their water and wastewater needs, because we understand how crucial clean, reliable water service is to all West Virginians.”
Beginning today, contractors for West Virginia American Water will install approximately 10,000 feet of 4-inch HDPE pipe from the closest point of Lashmeet PSD’s water system, along Matoaka Road, to a point of connection with Matoaka’s water system just inside town limits. Weather permitting, the interconnection will be complete in approximately three weeks.
“We’re just happy to see people get clean water,” said Gene Buckner, president of the Mercer County Commission. “We’re glad that West Virginia American Water will be making this available to the residents of Matoaka. This is a great step forward.”
West Virginia American Water will begin making upgrades to the Matoaka water system, including replacing water mains, fire hydrants, service lines, meters and setters as needed. The Matoaka water tank will be evaluated and recommendations of the evaluation will be implemented. The company’s initial investment will be $404,000, which is the amount of investment allowed by PSC rules to extend service to Matoka’s 94 customers if the company was extending service through a regular main line extension. Additional upgrades may be made per PSC rules based upon the number of final customer connections.
During this interim period, Matoaka residents will pay the same rates as Lashmeet PSD customers, which mirror West Virginia American Water’s rates and are lower than Matoaka’s current rates. Lashmeet PSD will seek outside funding through state grants and loans to reimburse the company for the costs associated with the temporary line and will continue to work with all entities involved to secure a permanent water supply solution for Matoaka.