NEW CUMBERLAND - Customers of the Oakland Public Service District soon will see and smell a difference in their water.
Some already may have noticed an improvement now that the new water treatment system is online.
The Oakland PSD sent notices to 120 new customers on Tuesday telling them they can hook up to the system. Many existing customers, after years of tolerating the effects of iron and manganese in their water, now are receiving water that is odor-free and color-free, said Gregory Scott, senior project manager for Buchart Horn Inc., a Pittsburgh engineering firm.
"We're happy they're no longer getting orange water," Scott said.
The district, which provides water service to 865 customers in central and southern Hancock County, broke ground on the $5 million improvement project in June 2012. Now that the project is near completion, new customers are being instructed through a "notice of availability" to apply for water service, if they haven't already, and to hook up to the system.
Among the project's five components was the construction of six and a half miles of new water line on Tope, Gibson and Chapman roads; part of Cameron Hollow Road; and Kit, Lowes and Daniel drives. New customers, most of whom have been on well water, must fill out an application and pay a $50 fee before installing their private service lines and requesting an inspection.
The other project components include:
Construction of a 35-by-40-foot water treatment plant on Hardins Run Road.
Construction of a 375,000-gallon storage tank on Chapman Road.
Repainting of the storage tank on Wylie Ridge Road.
Repainting of the Golden Key storage tank on Hudson Hill Road.
The latter tank is used for water purchased from Weirton but distributed to Golden Key customers by the Oakland PSD.
All that remains to be done, Scott said, is putting some finishing touches on the treatment plant and repainting the Wylie Ridge Road tank.
"We couldn't do that until the new (Chapman Road) tank was operational," he said. "We wanted to make sure that we filled the new tank with iron-free water so that the new customers would not have any issues."
Scott said the district received word on Monday that the third and final bacteriological test came back clean, meaning the new tank is safe to use. Also Monday, the district board authorized Scott to issue a notice to proceed on the final portion of the project, which will take about two months to complete.
In addition to the project being about two months behind schedule, the process of bringing the system online takes time and must be done in phases, Scott said.
"It's a big project, and we've had complications," district Chairwoman Cindy Jones said at a recent board meeting.
The centerpiece of the project is the new treatment plant, which will remove iron and manganese from the water using a high-rate pressure filter system. The state-of-the-art system is the first of its kind to be built in West Virginia, Scott said.
For years, Oakland PSD customers have complained about odors and stains resulting from elevated levels of iron and manganese in the water. Iron and manganese are considered secondary contaminants, meaning they don't pose a direct health risk to humans unless they are found in high concentrations.
While district officials spent years looking for treatment alternatives to address the problem, funding for the project - from state and county sources - did not materialize until 2012.
In addition to ending discolored water, the new system will enhance fire protection, improve overall service and bring 120 new customers online.
Customers are responsible for installing a private service line from their residence to the district-owned and -maintained meter pit. Once the private service line is installed, customers should contact the district to arrange for an inspection and the installation of a water meter.
Customers should allow 72 hours for the inspection to be done, and inspections will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, Scott said.
The district can be reached at (304) 797-8353.