XTO Energy, Belmont County Mull Partnership

XTO Energy and Belmont County commissioners are discussing the possibility of a private/public partnership to bring necessary upgrades to the Sand Hill water station.

XTO purchases water from the county for use at their drilling sites, according to Amy Dobkin, public and government affairs advisor for XTO Energy.

The company is proposing participating in the construction of about 4 miles of new waterline and a new pumping station and power upgrade. New fire hydrants and valves also would be part of the project.

The improvements would affect 60 homes, which would need to be reconnected to a separate line as the new waterlines would contain pressure beyond what is desired for private home use.

“We have a need for water,” Dobkin said. “That is something we can truck in from various locations, or can take advantage of working with and purchasing water from (the county). But it needs to come in at a certain rate to be useful to our needs. These upgrades should increase the flow rate of the water as well, so it will help in that regard.”

Dobkin and Commissioner Mark Thomas said experts for both the company and the county would soon meet to address the technical aspects of the project.

“This project is one of a number of projects in which we are getting requests to improve and upgrade our infrastructure,” Thomas said. ” If we took all the requests, it would be literally over $20 million. What is being proposed her is an agreement between a private entity and a public entity about working together for a common goal. That common goal is obvious. … You’re going to be here for a while. We want to be good partners.”

Working with business partners like XTO on projects to improve infrastructure will ultimately benefit Belmont County, Commissioner Ginny Favede said.

She said the waterlines would remain well after XTO and other energy companies had completed operations in the county.