Progress made on dedicated water line
Director of Public Works Frank Welch says the new dedicated water line, which began last November, is about 75 percent finished and barring any unforeseen weather events, should be completed by the end of March.
The water line project will transport water from the plant to water tanks with no service taps along the way, reducing the amount of contaminants in the water.
“Once the line gets in the ground it will still have to be pressure-tested and tested for bacteria,” Welch said. “It’s just standard procedure. So we have a little bit of time before it’s done.”
Crews are currently working on the south side Route 45, near the Dollar General and Subway parking lot, with flaggers directing traffic through the intersection of Route 45 and alternate 45. Disruptions to traffic have been minimal throughout the process, although recent water valve breaks have caused some redirection of traffic, along with interruptions in water service and boil orders for town residents.
Shepherdstown residents had been receiving letters from the town about contaminants in the water. The maximum contaminant level is 80 parts per billion of trihalomethanes, but the town saw a level of 88 ppb when the readings were averaged out over the last four quarters of 2016 and 2017. The new water line is the second part of a three-phase process for improving the tap water in town. The first step was putting an aeration system in the clear well where the water is disinfected. The third step will be a new water plant, which officials say is a few years down the road.
Money for the $3 million project was borrowed from the private market and residents have already seen an 8 percent increase on their water bill to help pay for the project.
“We’re hoping that this will carry a chlorine residual a little better,” Welch said. “Also, if and when we decide to do a new water plant, that (water line) will already be upgraded and that water will get from the water plant to the tank quicker and we shouldn’t have to pump as many hours as what we’re doing now.”