MUB zeroing in on route for new reservoir pipeline

MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown Utility Board’s effort to find an acceptable route for a raw water pipeline through or around White Park continued  Tuesday.
MUB presented a “matrix” of options during Morgantown City Council’s committee of the whole meeting.
The updated information presented  Tuesday is available at mub.org/waterline.
Another public meeting on the topic will be held at 5:30 today at Morgantown City Hall.
As MUB has stated previously, the eight or so options being considered are being updated continuously as additional information becomes available, including what, if any, additional permitting would be needed for each and how that could impact the project timeline.
While MUB Assistant General Manager Doug Smith said no decisions have been made, the utility is zeroing in on some preferred routes.
Included in the list of options are two alternatives — numbered 3 and 8 — that would run through the park south of the existing Cobun Creek reservoir.
Those options are  estimated to cost an additional $780,000 and $1,140,000, respectively, and would not require a customer rate increase to finance, according to the information presented by MUB.
The alternatives range up to $8.6 million for a route running down Mississippi Street to Callen Street, requiring a pumping station, or $8.3 million to use directional drilling — a six-month process to bore beneath the park. Of the eight options presented, five would likely require rate increases, including the two listed above.
MUB began a public input process after receiving substantial backlash after it became evident the utility planned to clear hundreds of trees in White Park to run a gravity-fed pipeline from a new secondary water source, which is currently under construction, to MUB’s treatment facility along Don Knotts Boulevard.
MUB’s original route, which would have impacted a number of old “witness” trees, was quickly abandoned due to the outcry.
Additional meetings on this topic are scheduled for June 3, at MUB headquarters, and during the June 4 city council meeting.
In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, the Morgantown Parking Authority has asked council to consider updating some of the city’s ordinances pertaining to the MPA’s operations.
MPA Director Dana McKenzie said the ordinances in question date back to 1967 and no longer reflect how the organization operates.
Among other things, the changes would update and enhance the MPA’s ability to manage its budget by removing outdated dollar amounts ($500).
McKenzie also asked that the MPA be given more autonomy to set off street parking rates — primarily in terms of negotiating for long-term parking rates for purchasers of multiple passes.
While council said it would like additional input from the MPA on the latter issue, a number of councilors expressed concerns, primarily questioning the public transparency of such a process if handled through the MPA.

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