WSAZ Investigates | Stranded Sewage

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:42 PM EST
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - For years, neighbors who live in and around Holiday Park Road in the Salt Rock area of Cabell County say they have been overwhelmed with raw sewage taking over every time it rains.

“We don’t deserve to live in sewage,” Donna Adkins said.

We first learned about the issue when a concerned community member called WSAZ to tell us students are having to walk through sewage just to get to their school bus.

So, WSAZ started making calls to find out more about the issue, what’s causing it, who is responsible, and what’s being done to fix it.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission tells us they’ve been receiving reports of the issue since 2014.

In 2015, they say they determined the Holiday Park water treatment plant had been abandoned by its owner. Since then, the search has been on for another agency to take over those services.

We found a 2022 report from the PSC, which states in part: “The sewer plant has not operated in over 6 years … Sewage still flows into the plant from houses … The line occasionally gets stopped up and people will go over and try to get it unstopped so sewage ceases to back up in their homes … The sewer plant is currently completely submerged with raw sewage. It has overflowed the original treatment basin and has formed a pond of sewage covering the entire lot.”

Neighbors say it’s a health hazard for everyone including children.

“I don’t want them in that. They’ll get diseases. I have COPD and asthma. I stay in my house because I’m not breathing it in,” Adkins said.

So what’s being done?

The PSC says the Pea Ridge Public Service District met with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in 2018 -- expressing interest in taking over the abandoned sewage services.

The following year, the state approved Pea Ridge PSD’s takeover plan. However, the report states those plans were put on hold when Pea Ridge PSD began work on their own facility.

Fast forward to August 2022: Pea Ridge PSD said it was ready to move forward with the Holiday Park Project, but said their estimated cost nearly doubled from $2.2 million to $3.7 million.

So, WSAZ called the Pea Ridge PSD to find out how they were going to get the money.

They say they haven’t heard back on a decision.

WSAZ asked the DEP about why the Pea Ridge PSD hasn’t received an answer on the funding. They say it’s because the Pea Ridge PSD hasn’t submitted the required paperwork.

We called Pea Ridge PSD and they say they didn’t know that was a stipulation and they can’t start any of the plans unless the project is totally funded.