CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two experienced planners are waiting on responses to the open letter they formulated recently that included plans for a lake to be created at Coonskin Park to serve as a back-up water supply for some 300,000 residents in parts of nine West Virginia counties for as long as 28 days.
Former South Putnam PSD General Manager Fred Stottlemyer and former planner Joe Mullins are proposing an 800-million-gallon, 65-acre lake to be built in a current ravine at the park, not far from the Elk River and not far from West Virginia American Water’s Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant that serves customers in those counties.
“This is a very simple, straightforward solution to the problem we had in the past,” Mullins told MetroNews. “Quite frankly, it should have existed before the problem. We’re trying to play catch up here.”
The “problem” Mullins referred to is the Jan. 9 chemical spill and water emergency on the Elk that contaminated the water inside the WVAWC plant that forced a plant shutdown and water emergency. The plant currently has no back up supply.
Mullins said he contacted Stottlemyer with the Coonskin idea after he heard the water company discuss connecting the plant to the Kanawha River, which could cost about $100 million. The Coonskin Lake is estimated to cost between $25 million to $35 million. It would also provide recreation opportunities for park goers.
The plan details how the water would be pumped from the Elk, held in the lake and then pumped down an old railroad bed to the plant just three miles away if it were ever needed. Mullins said the lake could also serve as a water supply for nearby National Guard headquarters in case of an emergency.
Mullins said he and Stottlemyer have basically written an open letter to community leaders.
“Any of (community leaders) would be smart to embrace this, analyze it and if it stands to the test of criticism–move on it,” he said. “This needs to be analyzed, shot at by critics. Maybe somebody has a better idea.”