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South Charleston moves forward with sewer upgrade

Gazette-Mail file photo
Steve DeBarr, general manager of the South Charleston Sanitary Board, stands in a “package” treatment plant used to sanitize septic waste for a housing development off Corridor G in 2015.

South Charleston City Council took another step toward upgrading and overhauling the city’s sewage operation on Thursday.

Council members passed a second reading of an ordinance to issue bonds for the project.

“This is just one projects of many that we will be doing in the next 10 years to get the sanitary board in compliance with federal law,” South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said.

The project’s current focus is on upgrading the sanitary plant’s electrical system. While the city owns the plant, Dow Chemical operates it.

“It’s kind of a unique partnership,” Mullens said. “It’s been that way for decades.”

The upgrade will cost city a little more than $2 million and Dow about around $7 million.

The second phase of the project will address what is called a bar screen, which is used to keep debris and material out of the sanitation system.

“The electrical system is old and outdated,” Mullens said. “It has been a concern of ours for several years now and quite frankly we need to get this done.”

Mullens said the upgrades are one small part of the city’s effort to achieve full compliance with federal and state laws. Mullens added the needed upgrades were common throughout the country and not isolated to South Charleston.

By state law, the ordinance has to be passed on third reading. Mullens anticipates the city doing that next council meeting and will put the work out to bid after that.

Also on Thursday, council agreed to donate a fire department SUV to the Pinch Volunteer Fire Department.

“We had an old vehicle in our fleet that [Pinch] had an interest in,” Mullens said.

The practice isn’t out of the norm for the city.

“As we move some things out of our fleet and upgrade to newer models, some of these other communities that are in need, if we can help them out, we love doing that,” Mullens said. “Some communities are as fortunate as us to have the tax base that we have and be able to the things we can do, and if we can help out other communities in need, I think that’s something that’s not only a nice thing for us to do, but it is something we should do.”

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