South Charleston officials are planning a possible $20 million extension of their sewer service into Lincoln County -- which they hope will spur major economic development along Corridor G.
Both Mayor Frank Mullens and Steve DeBarr, general manager of the city sanitary board and city engineer, emphasize the project is in its "infant stages." However, Mullens noted it is "alive and well" during Thursday night's council meeting.
DeBarr said the city has been working with the Lincoln County Commission and Lincoln County Public Service Commission for a while to extend sewer service to about 500 customers in the Alum Creek area. Once sewer lines would cross the Kanawha County line, more Kanawha County residents can be picked up, as well.
That could bring in another 500 customers. The city's treatment plant can handle the extra flow.
The area presently has water service from West Virginia American Water, but it has no sewage service, DeBarr said. This limits opportunities for growth.
Mullens said the city has received two project cost estimates. The first, which picks up the most customers, would cost about $20 million. The second, which only picks up Alum Creek, would cost $16 million. Right now, the city has no funding for the project because it has to get the state Department of Environmental Protection's approval first. After that, it hopes to receive grant funding.
Extending sewer service, city officials believe, could cause an economic boom for both Kanawha and Lincoln counties. Mullens said he knows "for a fact" that developers have been interested in both counties' Corridor G areas.
"You have to have proper infrastructure before people will relocate," Mullens said. "It's a significant project -- no question about it. But I believe the value will far outweigh the costs ... The rewards would be tremendous, particularly for future generations."
"If you look at our borders, the only area to grow is along Corridor G. But we have to take this in phases and do this properly."
"Corridor G, once the economy improves, could be the next area for a boom," DeBarr said. "You have government entities in two counties that want to improve a region."
DeBarr noted the project, once completed, could eliminate environmental hazards from old septic tanks and inadequate sewage treatment.
"If you eliminate septic and package plants, it's an environmental win," he said.
South Charleston city officials have met with Lincoln County Public Service Commission officials, as well as representatives from S&S Engineering, Mullens said. The latter does engineering work for Lincoln County. The plan has support from the Lincoln PSC, as well as the Lincoln and Kanawha county commissions.
He hopes the project will now receive state-level support.