Coal Valley News

CHARLESTON - West Virginia American Water announced on Aug. 9 that it has completed its acquisition of the Boone-Raleigh Public Service District (PSD) water distribution system.

This transaction follows several months of emergency aid to the distressed public service district, which has historically experienced more than 60 percent water loss and frequent water outages due to leaks.

Boone-Raleigh PSD, which serves approximately 470 customers along Rt. 3 in Boone and Raleigh counties, including the towns of Sylvester and Whitesville, has experienced a decline in customers and has struggled to maintain adequate service in recent years. The water system is in need of substantial upgrades and infrastructure replacements, including the water treatment plant that has received multiple deficiencies from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and is subject to a consent order with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The PSD was no longer able to provide adequate investments into the water system without significantly increasing customer rates, and West Virginia American Water will now step in to provide vital service for those customers at reasonable and affordable rates.

"We were very pleased to receive the Public Service Commission's approval to acquire the Boone-Raleigh PSD water system," said Robert Burton, president of West Virginia American Water, via a press release. "Customers throughout this system have been experiencing frequent water outages and unreliable service for quite some time. As we close this acquisition, West Virginia American Water will now take the necessary steps to provide these customers with the quality, reliable water service they need and deserve."

The acquisition will remove a financial burden from the Boone County Commission as they have had to absorb several months of bond payments for the PSD, most recently committing making a payment of $9,476.82 at a time when the county is facing a $2.5 million budget deficit.

West Virginia American Water will be establishing an interconnection between the company's existing water lines in Boone County and the PSD's system. Until the interconnection is completed, the PSD will continue to operate its water treatment plant and supply water that West Virginia American Water will distribute to customers. Next steps will include updating and improving infrastructure throughout the system to ensure reliable water service and ultimately retiring the PSD's treatment plant once customers begin receiving water supplied by the company's Kanawha Valley treatment plant in Charleston. As of today, Boone-Raleigh PSD's customers will become customers of West Virginia American Water, paying the company's standard rates as set by the PSC. Certain low-income customers may qualify for an automatic 20 percent discount through the company's Special Reduced Rate program.