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New $16 million extension links Tornado to sewer system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Construction is expected to begin in January on the final phase of a sewer expansion project linking subdivisions and individual homes along the lower Coal River with the St. Albans Municipal Utility Commission's wastewater treatment plant.

First approved in 2006, the sewer expansion project has already connected 600 homes to the sewer system during its first two phases of construction.

The third and final development phase will add 650 more homes to the system, including most of Tornado, Ames Heights, Chestnut Point, homes along Tackett Creek and Martin Branch, and a portion of Fairview Heights. Homes along the west side of the Coal River between the Indian Head subdivision, which is already connected to the new system, and Lower Falls, will also be included.

Earlier this year, the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council approved financing for the project, made available through a $16 million loan from the state Division of Environmental Protection's State Revolving Fund.

The sewer system is owned and operated by the Greater St. Albans Public Service District with support from the St. Albans Municipal Utilities Commission. Engineering for the extension project is provided by Dunn Engineers of Charleston.

Announcement of the new construction phase was made by the Coal River Group, which pushed for the sewer extension as part of its stream restoration effort for the Coal River watershed.

Completion of the sewage extension project "will do more to clean up the river than anything that has occurred in 70 years," said Coal River Group co-founder and board chairman Bill Currey. "We can pick up tires and remove trash, and we do. But removal of sources of raw sewage costs millions of dollars and takes the work and effort of every government agency and citizens to accomplish. After years of work, we are now seeing the payoff."

Bringing a sewer system to Tornado and surrounding areas along Coal River Road will "serve as an economic engine for future growth in the newly emerging housing market," Currey said.

Reliance on household septic tanks along the lower Coal has been the primary source of high levels of fecal coliform and other forms of bacterial contamination for that stretch of river in the past, Currey said.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.


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