CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company President Jeff McIntyre said providing a second water intake for the company’s Kanawha Valley Plant in Charleston would cost at least $70 million.

McIntyre said the company’s engineers are just beginning to look at options for what can be done as a backup for the plant that was impacted by the Jan. 9 chemical spill and the water emergency that followed.

McIntyre told members of the House Judiciary Committee a secondary intake would be a major project.

File photo

The Kanawha Valley Plant on the Elk River currently has no secondary intake.

“The current engineering analysis suggests that we would micro-tunnel underneath the city (Charleston) to a point where we come above and do open cut and go 12 miles up the Kanawha (River) to above Belle,” McIntyre said.

He added they would have to go that far above Charleston because there’s been a moratorium on water intakes on the Kanawha River from that point to Charleston for years. He said the water has not been rated Class A.

McIntyre said the range of cost of the project would $70 million to $105 million. He said the numbers are in no way final.

“These are very preliminary engineering estimates that have not been through the rigor of an engineering design,” McIntyre said.

WVAWC is also considering a water impoundment but McIntyre said that potential option also would have challenges and is more expensive.

“If you were to impound five days worth (of water) you would need 250 million gallons. Our engineers suggest that’s 110 acres and it’s probably a hollow you would have to dam and everyone in West Virginia knows some of the issues with dams and fears,” McIntyre said.

The storage tank and water protection legislation currently before lawmakers does not include a requirement for a second intake. The cost of any project would likely be passed on to water customers.


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  • Justin Time

    They could use 50 acres of the more than 200 acres available within 1 1/2 miles to the north and west of their present water treatment plant for an water reserve storage lake. This would be just west of I-77 near its juncture with I-79. This lake would add some recreational potential as well as beauty to the northern entrance to Charleston and would be a safe place for such an impoundment as it would have a rocky base and any structure would face Newman's Branch.

  • Tim

    Why cant the intake be put three miles up the Elk river? At a cost of around 3 million

    • Cooter

      The whole idea of a second intake is to pull water from another source not tainted by anything. Going that far upstream on the Kanawha is to avoid any possible contamination sources that fall closer to Charleston.

      • tim

        That's what I said go above the poorly regulated and poorly operated facilities. AW is just trying to do the highest cost facility so they either won't have to do anything or will have the largest rate increase.

  • Aaron

    Why do they have to tunnel under the city? Why can they not lay a pipe along the bank on the Elk, to the Kanawha?

    As to the water moratorium, why can the water not be tested and reclassified?

    • Aaron

      I don't doubt that but if it's going to cost that much money, why not simply run a pipeline above ground?

      • College Ave

        I'm no engineer, but I'm thinking an above-ground pipeline becomes a bad idea as soon as the line needs to cross a street.

        I think we'd also prefer to have our water line buried as a matter of security.

        • Aaron

          I guess you missed the part about it running along the banks of the Elk and Kanawha.

          • Andrew

            All water lines need to below the frost line or they could easily freeze. Thus, they must be buried 3 feet or more.

    • Wowbagger

      My guess is that a "micro-tunnel" is essentially a cased horizontal boring pretty much like the directionally drilled part of a Marcellus well using a lot of the same equipment. The new technology to do this is both amazing and mostly the result of old fashioned American innovation.