LEWISBURG (WVDN) – Lewisburg City Council and Mayor Beverly White welcomed U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Lewisburg at the city’s water treatment plant for an announcement regarding the new municipal water project on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
Gov. Jim Justice was there representing the state and his hometown as he expressed the critical need for clean water in a developing economy.
“Everyone needs clean water. Just look at the beautiful mountains surrounding us here. We live in a wonderful place, but clean water is absolutely critical for life,” Justice said.
The city has plans to overhaul the aging, overburdened water system which serves communities in Lewisburg, Ronceverte, and Maxwelton.
Local and state funds have been added to the project financing with a bottom line for the project of $93 million.
Originally, the city grant application was estimated at $38 million dollars. But after the COVID-19 pandemic caused inflation of construction materials, that cost had to be adjusted upwards another $7.7 million.
The combination of grants and loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to restructure the water plant and delivery infrastructure totals over $63 million dollars.
White introduced each guest, and as they spoke, all expressed gratitude for the team that has come together to make this project happen.
According to Manchin, this project is the largest amount of money ever obtained through the USDA in West Virginia.
“I met Secretary Vilsack as a governor, we were both governors at the time, and he was from Iowa, so he knows rural America and he knows what we need for our communities here,” said Manchin.
Manchin praised Vilsack for listening and responding to the pleas for support for projects across the state of West Virginia. McDowell and Raleigh Counties are receiving help in technology and knowledge through a partnership of the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to address their needs for sewage treatment.
During his speech, Vilsack stated that an undertaking the size of the Lewisburg water project is more than a community can tackle without financial help or government participation.
“It takes resources to do a project like this, and we know the large numbers of private, public and commercial customers that are being affected,” said Vilsack.
Manchin concurred, stating that local governments cannot continue to patch and stretch a system like this one – it is time for a complete restructure.
Manchin also mentioned another $22 million is earmarked for PSD no. 2 to update their infrastructure and distribution system in the Meadow River Valley portion of Greenbrier County.
WV state Sen. Stephen Baldwin was also on hand at the groundbreaking and stated he has been helping in this last stretch of months to bring sate monies on board for the much-needed overhaul.
“The system is pretty seriously overburdened. The treatment plant right now runs full capacity 22 hours a day to provide what is being drawn through it. No new customers can be added. This is serious,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin said that the success or failure of the Lewisburg water system stretches beyond the city’s borders.
“The hospital and State Fair in Ronceverte, and Smooth Ambler in Maxwelton, are examples of businesses that depend on the water from Lewisburg,” Baldwin said. “The whole valley, and into the county surrounding, are affected by the success of businesses and schools operating within the water service area of Lewisburg.”
“It has taken some heavy lifting from these (men and women) that are working for our state and our community. This project will be transformational,” said Justice.
|Lewisburg Mayor Beverley White (l to r), Lewisburg Public Works director Tony Legg, and city manager Misty Hill give the tour of the present water treatment plant to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. Carolyn Cleaton photo
|Media photographers take photos of the tanks and piping inside the current water treatment building. Carolyn Cleaton photo
|U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s lecturn. Vilsack visited West Virginia Wednesday to announced funding for the new Lewisburg water project. Carolyn Cleaton photo
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