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Sistersville Holds Special Meeting to Discuss Water Options

By Staff | Oct 25, 2017

There was a special meeting at the city building in Sistersville last Wednesday where Mayor Rice, several council members and other guests discussed the options for Sistersville’s waterworks moving forward. Engineers were present to explain the potential plan of connecting to Friendly PSD or rebuilding another water plant. The original plant was built in 1884 and is need of an upgrade.

The engineers explained that there was originally $85,000 to put towards the project when they began discussion of connecting to an alternate water source. However, over the passing of time and late applications, the numbers have changed and the engineers will have to redo many calculations in order to have accurate figures. They are currently waiting on the 2017 report before moving forward.

If the water lines need to be replaced, it will cost the city even more funding. Therefore approximately 24,000 will be held back in case the water lines need replaced. Also, the large amount of breaks in the last few years has hit the city financially.

Jesse Parker, engineer over the project, explained that with the bond payment, plus the payment on the 10,000 dollar loan, it will create a 34-35 percent increase in water rates.

It was told that based on what is coming in versus what is going out, plus bond payments, Sistersville is looking at a 3-4 percent increase just to get back to even. The city is actually spending more than it is bringing in for the water fund.

At the very bare minimum, it will still cost Sistersville 3 million dollars to connect to Friendly PSD. It will cost approximately 4.5 million to build a new plant and that includes 1,500 feet of water line replacement and electronic water meters.

“Where was this information three years ago when we started talking about all this?” asked a concerned citizen. “None of this was even brought up.”

It seems that since the notion of switching Sistersville’s water was brought up, prices have increased, interest rates have increased, and cost projections have increased. Originally there was a grant available for 40 years at zero percent increase which has changed. The current rate is 1.25 percent over 40 years which also drives the cost of the project up.

Mayor Rice stated that he “didn’t like it” and made it very clear that he was opposed to raising the water rates. He stated that he has been told all along that the rates would not increase, and now they are talking about a 34-35 percent increase. He feels that the citizens need to know what is going on and encourages everyone to get involved in the water system. He feels that the city is on borrowed time with their water and people need to know that something needs to be done soon.

If the project were to be completed it will most likely cause a shift in employee positions for the city of Sistersville. In other words, it will take less men to operate the upgraded system which will force other city workers to be relocated to another position. They will still be employees of the city, they just may not work at the water plant itself. They may instead may be shifted to the street department for example.

There are several variables going into the project which in turn creates a variation of costs and options when moving forward. The project in its entirety is a very complicated procedure that will have to be handled delicately. It was decided for the engineers to get the 2017 projections and to focus on the hazardous water lines in Sistersville, mostly on the north end of town. There will be several recalculations to present to the city of Sistersville at a later date as everyone tries to determine the best possible solution for Sistersville’s water moving forward.