Public Service District Gets Ready for More Pipeliners

Throughout the past two summers, staff members at Marshall County Public Service District No. 4 have had their hands full keeping up with the development plans of natural gas pipeliners.

Some of the companies cut through public waterlines, leaving customers without service.

Jim Thomas, a PSD 4 board member, hopes better communication between the pipeliners and the water department will prevent such problems this summer.

“The gas companies are starting to boom up again,” Thomas said. “Some of the companies are great to work with, but some aren’t.”

To try to keep up with the billions of dollars worth of construction – and the hundreds of pipeliners the developers employ – PSD 4 has only five workers, including the secretary, Thomas said.

“People just don’t realize how big our district is,” he said of the area that includes over 200 miles of water mains and other lines for providing water service to most of the southern and eastern portions of the county. “It can be hard for us to find a leak because the system is so large.”

In 2012, district General Manager George Lagos found pipeliners breaking a rural waterline and leaving it exposed to sunlight in the area of Bane Lane, north of Cameron along U.S. 250.

The waterline was suspended above the hole via ropes attached to a cut tree branch. The small blue waterline was sitting close to the new gas pipelines. There were no sandbags between the lines and the excavated earth.

Lagos said there should be a 3-foot distance between the waterlines and the gas lines, while he said there should be sandbags from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the waterline.

Lagos said having an active waterline that is delivering water to his customers totally exposed to the sun opens the possibility of bacterial growth in the water passing through the line.

Thomas said the district is still getting reports of truckers taking water from fire hydrants for use in the drilling and fracking industry.

“One of them said, ‘I’ll pay for it.’ How are we supposed to know how long he was doing it?” Thomas said.

Marshall County commissioners recently approved giving PSD 4 $10,000 to use toward the purchase of a new truck after Thomas told them the district had only one functional truck: its Ford F650 that averages 6 miles per gallon of gasoline.

“The extensive size of the district puts extra wear and tear on the vehicles,” Commissioner Bob Miller said.

County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel said the Public Service Commission of West Virginia must approve the plan for commissioners to give this $10,000 to PSD 4.

Thomas thanked commissioners for the money toward the truck, adding he hopes the state commission will approve the deal.