MATOAKA, W.Va. — A temporary water line announced by West Virginia American Water will provide reliable, clean drinking water to a Mercer County town plagued with ongoing water issues.

Matoaka residents have had constant water quality problems for months because of a crumbling water treatment plant. This project will connect Matoaka’s water distribution system with Lashmeet Public Service District’s system. This will allow the current water system to be decommissioned and eventually push funding for a permanent solution.

West Virginia American Water External Affairs Manager Laura Martin told MetroNews affiliate WJLS the company serves roughly 1/3 of the Mountain State.

“We more than anyone quite frankly understand and appreciate the value of clean, safe and reliable water service. So when we do have these communities that are in need of emergency assistance we’re often the ones that come in simply because we know the value of having clean, safe water.”

Due to financial struggles, the Town of Matoaka has been unable to maintain its water treatment and distribution system. Outages, poor water quality and leaks were part of the reason for a decision earlier this year to discontinue municipal services and become an unincorporated community.

West Virginia American Water went to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia for approval of the temporary interconnection and enter an emergency agreement to operate and maintain Matoaka’s water system. Several meetings took place that included efforts from Lashmeet PSD, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and the Mercer County Commission among others.

Martin said the multi-agency effort helped get the project moving as quickly as it has.

“It’s because we had a lot of different entities and agencies on board working cooperatively. It took several different meetings so that everyone could be on board on not only what is the plan short-term, but also what’s the long-term plan and how can we all work together.”

West Virginia American Water contractors have begun installing 10,000 feet of 4-inch HDPE pipe from the Lashmeet PSD water system along Matoaka Road. It will connect to Matoaka’s water system just inside of the town’s limits.

“We’re just happy to see people get clean water,” said Mercer County Commission President Gene Buckner. “We’re glad that West Virginia American Water will be making this available to the residents of Matoaka. This is a great step forward.”

Other upgrades to be completed as part of the project include the replacement of water mains, fire hydrants, service lines, meters and setters. West Virginia Water Company’s initial investment totals $404,000. This is the amount allowed by the Public Service Commission to extend service to Matoaka’s 94 customers.

Matoaka residents will continue to pay the same rates as Lashmeet customers while a permanent solution is reached.

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