West Virginia American Water and the Town of Glasgow have reached an agreement which will allow West Virginia American Water to purchase the town’s water system and provide safe, reliable drinking water to its customers.
According to a WVAW press release, the Town of Glasgow, which serves approximately 300 customers along Rte. 60 in Kanawha County, has struggled to maintain adequate service to its customers in recent years. The town’s water system needs substantial infrastructure upgrades, with the system historically experiencing frequent water outages due to leaks and an unaccounted-for water rate of approximately 66 percent. Most recently, West Virginia American Water has provided leak detection assistance and emergency water tankers to the town during widespread system outages.
In face of these challenges, the water company plans to acquire the Glasgow water system and establish an interconnection between the company’s water lines in Kanawha County and the town’s water system.
“Dozens of water and wastewater systems across our state are facing similar issues due to lack of investment and maintenance as well as a decline in population,” said West Virginia American Water President Robert Burton.
“Many small water systems are unable to meet the demands of operations and the considerable costs associated with maintaining an adequate water distribution system without significantly impacting customer rates.
“We are pleased we can provide a solution for the town and will work closely with Mayor Donald Fannin and the town council of Glasgow to ensure a seamless transition for customers to receive safe, reliable water service.”
Under the agreement, West Virginia American Water will make needed investments in the town’s water distribution system to reduce leakage. The company’s operations center in Charleston will continue to provide emergency assistance, personnel, equipment and expertise during the transition.
The proposed agreement requires the approval of the state Public Service Commission. If approved, the company will own and operate the water distribution facilities as part of its Kanawha Valley water system, at which time the company will begin replacing aging infrastructure and installing new water meters.
According to Megan Hannah, external affairs manager for WVAW, the company has identified approximately $1.4 million in system improvements that are necessary to provide reliable service to Glasgow customers. This includes replacing all system meters and a majority of mains and services, replacing inoperable fire hydrants, replacing a booster station, installing a pressure reducing station and all necessary control and monitoring equipment.
The proposal is aimed at the Glasgow water system only. All customers currently served by the town will become WVAW customers at the time of close.
According to Hannah, the water company has proposed a four-year rate phase-in that will lead to Glasgow system customers paying the same rates for service as all other West Virginia American Water customers by Jan. 1, 2024. According to the PSC, a Glasgow customer using 3,400 gallons per month currently has a monthly bill of $33.77. The company is proposing an initial increase of $4.47, or 13 percent, for a Glasgow residential customer using 3,400 gallons per month based on a current bill of $33.77 a month.
West Virginia American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing water services to about 550,000 people. More information can be found at www.westvirginiaamwater.com.
In addition to Montgomery, the company operates the water systems in Belle, Marmet, Chesapeake, Handley, Pratt and Smithers. Hannah says the company continues to have discussions with “many municipalities and public service districts throughout West Virginia that are in a similar situation as Glasgow.”
— Steve Keenan