Aged Water Mainline, Budget Both Under Pressure for City of Keystone

McDowell County

KEYSTONE, WV (WVNS) — Keystone mayor Elwin Thomas was one of more than 800 area residents that woke up on Friday, January 5, 2018 to nothing coming out of their faucets, prompting more bad news from the repairman.

“He pulled the well for us,” Thomas said. “He found out that the motor had ceased up on it.”

Even though the system now has a newly installed motor and chloride system, the area’s six year-long boil advisory will still be in effect due to the age and leakage of the lines carrying that water.

“Once we put some pressure back on the lines… we might have some water breaks on the main line,” Thomas said. “They’re over 100 years old and they can’t stand the pressure.”

Replacing those mainlines is not only just expensive. Financially, the city of Keystone is treading water with its general funds, depending on an EDA grant to fix the water system. But if something goes wrong with the mainline, the damaging costs could force the city into bankruptcy.

McDowell County commissioner Michael Brooks says this unfortunately is a county-wide problem, in which the jurisdiction has to be dependent on state and national resources to fund the necessary projects.

“Our county needs a lot of help financially in order to provide the citizens of our county the water that’s needed,” Brooks said.

In the meantime, citizens will have to rely on donated bottled water for drinking and personal care, all while hoping for an answer soon.

“I know there’s somebody out there that can help us with these problems,” Thomas said.  “I know everybody’s saying that… ‘These people don’t have money,’ but there is money out there… I am sure that somebody can step up and help these people here in McDowell County.”

The city is depending on Phase II of its public service district water project to replace those mainlines, but currently there is no set schedule for it to begin.

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