Improvements needed for Huntington water quality infrastructure

Aging infrastructure is becoming a costly and dangerous situation in the city of Huntington.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia’s largest wastewater treatment plant is located in Huntington and serves not only the city, but also Ceredo, Kenova, northern Wayne County, Spring Valley and parts of Pea Ridge.

“Our system is no different, except our system runs 24/7, never stops the flow of water that comes to it,” said Brian Bracey, executive director of the Huntington Water Quality Board.

City Council members are used to being presented problems at bi-weekly meetings, but this week, they were taken directly to see the issues up-close and personal, getting a first class tour of the aging infrastructure.

“It’s something that we need to do today,” said Councilman Duron Jackson. “With the prices of construction and equipment and materials, it’s going to keep rising, I believe, so pushing this back I don’t think is the right move. It’s something we need to address and take care of today.”

Some stops along the tour included the Four Pole Flood Pump Station, the 11th Street regulator and outfall, 5th Avenue diversion chamber, 8th and 10th street underpasses and the Huntington Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“They don’t see the infrastructure. They just see the problems when the infrastructure is failing,” Bracey said. “They see the problems when either flooding is happening here on the street or backup is happening in their home because these lines, many are over 100 years old.”

The treatment plant handles 13 million gallons of wastewater daily. Inside are large structural cracks. Aeration and other sites house original equipment, much of which is so old that replacement parts and pieces aren’t even available.

“The decisions that we’re making today are going to affect us the next 50 years,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “Do we want to be making decisions that get us through a term or decisions that take us through the next 50 years?”

The Huntington floodwall is 80 years old and 30 years past its lifespan. The U.S. Government says it’s the city’s responsibility to restore its condition. But rehabbing one pump station would cost $25 million. The city of Huntington has 17 of them, which cost more than $425 million.

The treatment plant is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by 18 operational personnel who are performing various control tests and making adjustments to the treatment process.

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