BARBOURSVILLE — The Pea Ridge Public Service District has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to extend public sanitary sewer services to local businesses and allow for future economic growth.
Dina Foster, general manager of the Pea Ridge PSD, said the project will extend sewer collector lines along Merritts Creek and W.Va. 2, as well as along W.Va. 193, also known as the Big Ben Bowen Highway.
“It will be a year and a half until this part of the project is completed,” Foster said. “This is part of a $36 million project to extend sewer services, as well as building a new sewage plant on Nova Street in Barboursville.”
The EDA grant, to be matched with $975,000 in local funds, is expected to retain 851 jobs, create 11 jobs and generate $14.6 million in private investment, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“It will mean economic development by providing sewer services to areas that currently aren’t being served,” Foster said. “Building a new plant will allow us to take more flow.”
The $2.5 million grant is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely affected by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities.
In the official announcement, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said, “The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies. Extending Barboursville’s public sewer infrastructure will strengthen the local economy by directly impacting both the growth and viability of current and future businesses.”
West Virginia’s governor and two U.S. senators applauded the announcement.
“I thank the EDA in every way for once again providing such generous funding for another one of our state’s great communities,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “This $2.5 million for the Pea Ridge Public Service District is going to make an incredible difference for the City of Barboursville and its people, and we’re incredibly appreciative of the EDA’s support.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “The EDA investment will extend public sanitary sewer services to businesses in the area, which will in turn attract more businesses, create and retain jobs and spur economic growth in the region. I look forward to seeing the economic growth from this project, and I will continue to work with the EDA to advocate for funding to boost our economy and create jobs across West Virginia.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, “As Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, improving West Virginia’s infrastructure continues to be a top priority for me. Supplying our communities with reliable wastewater services improves the lives of residents, creates and retains jobs, and encourages private investments. Today’s announcement is great news for Barboursville and Cabell County, and will help open the door for further growth in an important region in our state.”
Last month, the village of Barboursville announced it would receive $1.77 million in American Rescue Plan funding and already has plans to use the entire amount for the first phase of a major sewage project.
Mayor Chris Tatum said Barboursville currently has a lagoon-based sanitary sewer system off U.S. 60 at the Merritts Creek exit, behind the state Division of Highways location. A sewage lagoon is a large, pond-like basin into which wastewater flows for storage and treatment.
That project calls for the wastewater to flow to the Pea Ridge Public Service District, according to Tatum. The Barboursville Sanitary Board will still operate, with its employees taking care of the village’s infrastructure.
“We are just going to send our flow to their treatment plant,” he said. “We are also investing our own dollars into expansion so that we will have reserve capacity.”
The total cost of the project to shut down the lagoons and do environmental cleanup is expected to be around $8 million to $10 million, Tatum said.