UPDATE: 3/18/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Water troubles in one town in the Upper Kanawha Valley could soon come to an end following a major announcement of a system takeover.
West Virginia American water announced a major expansion, upgrade and improvement project Monday morning.
The town of Pratt has dealt with low pressure, raw sewage and other water woes caused by a failing and aging system.
The water company took over the plant a few months ago, but now the take-over will lead to a major turn of events. It wants to buy the old facility and build a new one for nearly two million dollars.
"It reinforces, it strengthens, it regionalizes our existing treatment facilities," WVAW President Jeffrey McIntyre said. "It adds new customers, obviously."
West Virginia American Water plans to buy Pratt's system for $437,000. The company will build a new treatment facility at a cost of $1.8 million and spend an additional $400,000 to update the main water line through town as well as fire hydrants and increase the water pressure to a standard level.
Many of the customers live in Pratt and have been waiting for years to hear the good news. Charlotte Calhoun says she learned the new system is guaranteed for 80 years.
"That just sort of blew my mind," neighbor Charlotte Calhoun said. "I'm so thrilled that we can see this."
The town's mayor, Gary Fields, is now pushing for project approval and excited for what this could mean in the future.
"I'm speechless really," Mayor Gary Fields said. "The rates are going to go down, we're not going to have to worry about pumps going out that we can't fix and it takes a tremendous burden off the town."
The county commission will pitch in $90,000-$180,000 to pay off the debt on the current Pratt system using the coal severance fund.
Commissioner Dave Hardy grew up in Pratt. He applauded the water company and says its providing a clear solution to not only Pratt, but the towns of Hansford and Paint Creek.
"It has a real effect on the quality of life in the Upper Kanawha Valley," Commissioner Dave Hardy said. "It has an effect on the property values, it has an effect on economic development for that area and it also provides our boys and girls in that elementary school with good, clean water -- the same water we're drinking right here in Charleston."
The new project must be approved by voters in Pratt. If the town votes yes, the state public service commission will have to sign off on it.
West Virginia American Water plans to break ground in May and finish up the project by December.
Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.
Commissioner Dave Hardy made the announcement Monday at a news conference. West Virginia American Water plans to by water lines and the system feeding the town of Pratt in the upper Kanawha Valley.
West Virginia American Water's President tells WSAZ.com they will spend $437,000 just to buy the system. Another $1.8 million will be spent to build a new 9,100 foot water line servicing Hansford, Pratt and Paint Creek. $400,000 will also be spent to make upgrades and improvements including the fire hydrants.
Work is expected to begin in May 2013 and should be completed by December, according to Hardy. He says the same water lines that service Charleston will now be delivered to a community that's been dealing with water problems for years.
Those living in Pratt are expected to see their rates actually decrease.
NewsChannel 3's Brooks Jarosz was at the news conference today and will have a full report tonight at six on WSAZ.
Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.
Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper says the company will take over the system in about two weeks.
Pratt officials will hold a special meeting about the entire transition sometime in the next 60 days.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
During a meeting Thursday, Kanawha County Commissioners said it was best for the future of the city if the water system is turned over to the water company.
Right now, Pratt owes nearly $40,000 to the IRS and the town's water plant owes more than $75,000.
The mayor of Pratt says the city is negotiating with West Virginia American Water and will make the deal happen soon.
West Virginia American Water officials say they will freeze water rates for four years, if they take over the water system.
Now Pratt is behind by $37,000 with no money to pay back the debt.
Kanawha County Commission gave the town $5,000 to be put back into the retirement fund Thursday.
All the money problems could spell trouble when Pratt tries to sell it's water plant.
If the city goes bankrupt, more than 600 people could be without water.
The commission says it will get its money back first if the water plant is sold.
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