Storm Water Update From Chief Operator

Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins sewer utility, has provided the following update concerning recent extraordinary rain events in Elkins, obstacles for storm water management, and next steps that are being planned to continue making improvements:

The past few months have exhibited extremely extraordinary rain events for the Elkins area. These unprecedented influxes of precipitation are causing system overloads.

Usually, overload issues are relieved by permitted discharges located throughout the City. These permitted overflows are designed to help reduce any potential flooding or surcharges involved with the Sanitary Sewer system. These abnormal rain events experienced are surging the system and are maxing design capacities.

The City of Elkins has been working diligently to improve system flaws throughout past years. These developments are very exhaustive and expensive and must be completed in “Phases” to provide a cost-effective solution to not only the City but also to the residents that will ultimately be responsible. The City began these “Phase Projects” with the initial “Phase I Project”, which began in 2015. The “Phase II Project” was just completed in 2021 and is still undergoing finalization.

Comparing dates, the duration of a Phase Project can take anywhere from 3-5 years. The length of time is due to the thorough work it takes for design, execution, and completion. At this time, there have not been any designated areas chosen for the upcoming Phase III project.

City personnel and collaborating partners are in the beginning stages of identifying areas impacted the most to provide the most success for the system and the best cost-effective strategy for residents. State and federal guidelines also play a large factor as to what can and cannot be implemented in the system. Since it is not feasible to have one project covering the entire City, the Phase III Project will not be the last progress seen. Numerous Phase Projects throughout future years will provide a cost-effective option for City residents.

A short-term solution that may help alleviate flooding issues would be to remove downspouts/roof drains from the Sanitary Sewer. Removal of excess storm water from the Sanitary Sewer will aid in the control of overload issues. Please note, if downspout/roof drain removal is completed consideration should be followed for any neighboring properties or locations.

In conclusion, the City of Elkins is aggressively working toward improving the current system. These improvements will take time due to regulatory standards, concentrated studies, and guaranteeing that studies confirm areas that will provide the most impact and cost effectiveness not only for the City but also for the residents we serve.

Separation Project Reduced Storm Water in Sewer Lines

This time last year, South Elkins was the scene of near-constant excavation work as a city contractor installed new underground pipes to carry storm water to the river. As is still the case in much of Elkins, South Elkins had no storm-water lines. Instead, storm drains and many residential downspouts in that neighborhood were connected directly to sewer lines. In combined sewer/storm-water systems like ours, too much rain can enter the sewer system during big storms, resulting in overflows of untreated wastewater to the river. Last year’s work in South Elkins was the second phase of an ongoing project to separate sewer and storm-water lines to reduce the occurrence of such overflows.

So, how effective was this project? Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins wastewater system, says that the two phases of sewer/storm-water separation work completed so far have already been extremely effective at reducing the volume of water entering sewer lines during heavy rainfall.

“When I started working at the treatment plant about 12 years ago, heavy rain events could result in as much as 8-10 million gallons leaving the plant after treatment,” says Hymes, who points out that the plant is designed to treat and release no more than 4.99 million gallons of outflow, or effluent, per day. “The effluent we were releasing still met environmental standards, but it definitely wasn’t as clear and clean as it could have been.”

According to Hymes, since the completion of the underground work last fall, the highest spike in system volume caused by a large rain event was only 5.99 millions in a single day.

“We still have work to do to eliminate overflows entirely, which is the goal DEP [the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection] has set for us ,” says Hymes, “but  we are making good progress toward that goal.”

Hymes and her team are currently working with engineers to plan a third phase of sewer/storm-water separation work. The project start date has not yet been set. In the meantime, there is something that property owners in South Elkins can do to help further reduce the volume of storm-water entering the sewer system.

“There are still a lot of houses in Elkins with gutter downspouts connected directly to the sewer lines,” says Hymes. “We really need to get those tied to the storm-water lines instead. If anyone wants more information, I encourage them to get in touch with me.”

Reach the Wastewater Treatment Plant at (304) 636-2058 or by emailing whymes@cityofelkinswv.com.

10/26: Updated Street Paving Closures for Rest of Week

Today’s rainy weather has resulted in changes to plans for Bear Contracting’s final paving and milling work, as part of the sewer/stormwater separation project.

As this work proceeds, there will be no parking 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on the day/streets listed below:

  • Wednesday-Thursday (10/27-28): 14th Street, 15th Street, 16th Street, Lavalette Avenue, Taylor Avenue, Whiteman Avenue, Kerens Avenue, Granny’s Lane, River Street, Granny’s Lane, and two sections of Ward Avenue (one section between Livingston and Lavalette, and one section extending southeast from Davis)
  • Friday (10/29): Work might need to continue on Granny’s Lane and River Street.

Please check back for updates.

Street Paving Closures, Week of 10/25

As the sewer/stormwater separation project nears completion, Bear Contracting will be milling and paving several streets during the week of October 25, as listed and shown in the map below. There will be no parking on the indicated dates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Monday (10/25): 14th Street, 15th Street, 16th Street, Lavalette Avenue, Taylor Avenue,
  • Tuesday (10/26): 14th Street, 15th Street, 16th Street, Lavalette Avenue, Taylor Avenue, Whiteman Avenue, Kerens Avenue, Granny’s Lane, River Street, and Ward Avenue between Livingston and Lavalette
  • Wednesday (10/27): Whiteman Avenue, Kerens Avenue, and Ward Avenue extending southeast from Davis
  • Thursday (10/28): Granny’s Lane, River Street

These dates may change, depending on asphalt availability from the plant and weather conditions. We will provide updated information as quickly as possible.

Click map to enlarge.

Week of 9/13: Street Closures

As part of the sewer/stormwater separation project, Bear Contracting will be working on the following streets during the week of September 13:

  • Monday-Wednesday: 14th Street from Lavalette Avenue toward Taylor Avenue
  • Wednesday-Thursday: Lavalette Avenue from 15th Street toward 16th Street

Sections of 14th Street and and Lavalette Avenue will be closed during the above work as shown on the below map.

Paving on South Davis Avenue, 15th Street, and South Henry Ave is complete.

RESCHEDULED: 9/2 South Elkins Water Outage

On Thursday (9/2), starting at 4 p.m., water will be off for customers in the area outlined in red on the belowmap and bounded by:
  • Livingston Avenue
  • 12th St./railroad tracks
  • South Gate/South Davis Ave.
  • Scott Ford Road
The outage also includes Jennings Randolph Elementary School, which is why the outage has been delayed until after 4 p.m.
 
The primary affected area described above and shown in the map at the bottom of this post can expect to experience a water outage. Nearby areas may see lower pressure or intermittent outages as well. Barring complications, the water-line relocation is projected to take 2-3 hours.
 
The purpose of this outage is to enable Bear Contracting to relocate a water-line as part of the sewer/stormwater separation project.
 
Read more about the sewer/stormwater separation project here: https://cityofelkinswv.com/government/current-projects-initiatives/sewer-project/
Primary affected area is inside the red line:

No Parking: sections of S. Davis and 15th

On Tuesday and Thursday this week, there will be no parking on SOUTH DAVIS AVENUE from 15th Street to Robin Hood Lane (at the sharp bend just before Jennings Randolph).
 
Bear Contracting will be milling and paving this section of street after completing underground work as part of the sewer/stormwater separation project.
 
FIFTEENTH STREET will also be milled and paved this week, between South Davis and Henry Avenue. There will be no parking on this street on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
 
Foul weather related to Hurricane Ida may force changes to this schedule. We appreciate your flexibility and patience.
 
Read more about the sewer/stormwater separation project here: https://cityofelkinswv.com/government/current-projects-initiatives/sewer-project/

Street Closures in South Elkins for Pavement Milling

Bear Contracting, the contractor for the sewer/stormwater separation project, will be milling streets in South Elkins starting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16. (See list below.) This work is expected to last into Thursday.

These closures are consecutive, not simultaneous. However, this process will result in significant disruptions to traffic. Please choose alternate routes.

Closures:

  • S. Railroad will be closed from the Tygart Valley River to Eleventh Street. Tenth Street will be closed between S. Railroad and S. Davis.
  • Eleventh Street will be single-lane with flaggers at the 11th Street/S. Davis intersection and at the 11th Street/S. Railroad.
  • South Davis will be closed between 10th and 11th Streets and between 11th Street and N. 12th Street.

The purpose of milling is to remove the top layer of the street to prepare it for resurfacing.

To learn more about the sewer/stormwater separation project, click here.

To learn more about street paving and patching in Elkins, click here.

Elkins Launching Two Infrastructure Projects Monday

Elkins, W. Va., January 28, 2021: On Monday, City of Elkins contractors will kick off two major infrastructure projects. Bear Contracting will begin Phase II of the city’s sewer/stormwater separation project, and Newman Plumbing will begin replacing remote-read water meters for all city water utility customers.

The sewer/stormwater separation project is the second phase of sewer-system improvements Elkins is required to implement under a 2011 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of this project is to reduce the number of combined sewer/stormwater pipes in Elkins, so that sudden downpours are less likely to overwhelm the sewer system’s capacity and cause overflows of untreated sewage to the Tygart Valley River.

In the phase of the sewer/stormwater project commencing Monday, crews will eventually excavate sections of 15 city streets and alleys in the neighborhood west of Wimer Field to install new, dedicated stormwater lines and related infrastructure components, such as manholes and catch basins.

The first street that will be excavated is Railroad Avenue, starting where it dead ends against the south bank of the Tygart Valley River, near Kelly Foundry.

This project, which is funded by a $4.9 million bond issue, will not result in any additional increase in sewer rates. More information about this project, including a list and map of the affected streets, can be found here: www.bit.ly/Phase2Sewer.

The water-meter project will replace the remote-read meters currently in use by the city’s approximately 4,200 water customers. These water meters are five years past warranty coverage, and about 1,300 have already failed. The opportunity to replace these water meters arose when aggressive costsaving measures during the 2016 water plant construction project spared the necessary $1.5 million. As a result, this project will not result in any increase in water rates. More information about this project can be found here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsWaterMeters

The impact of the water-meter replacement project, which must be completed by September, is projected by the contractor to be minor for most customers, involving only about 15 minutes’ disruption of water service per meter. The impacts of the sewer/stormwater separation project will vary by street but can be expected to include changes to traffic and parking patterns and the presence of heavy equipment; this project is not projected to disrupt any customer’s sewer service, however.

To stay current on information about these and other projects, as well as city news and safety alerts, please follow City of Elkins on one or more of the following communication channels:

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Utility bill higher than usual?

Last modified on January 29th, 2021 at 02:03 pm

If you’ve noticed a higher total on your utility bill this month, it’s because of a sewer-rate increase that just went into effect. The amount raised by this increase is paying for a $4.3 million sewer project scheduled for this year. (In case you didn’t know, your sewer usage is charged based on your water usage.)

The purpose of this project, known as the Phase II Sewer Project, is to reduce sewage discharges into the river during heavy rain events. These discharges happen because Elkins stormwater and sewage have traditionally been carried in the same system of pipes, which can overflow during heavy rains. The Phase II Sewer Project will install several new dedicated stormwater lines to reduce the occurrence of such overflows. This project is proceeding under a federal consent decree between Elkins and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There is no other source for this money. Under state law, sewer and other utilities must be run as standalone businesses. Their only source of funding comes from the rates paid by their customers. In other words, sewer projects like this one can only be paid for by raising sewer rates (and especially not with sales tax proceeds).

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