Water Plant Will Take Two Years to Build

WHEELING – Construction of a $30.55 million water treatment plant kicked off Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony in Warwood.

The plant will replace Wheeling’s 90-year-old facility, located off Richland Avenue. The city sold $39.32 million in bonds to fund the project, including the $30.55 million contract for the plant building, a $4.73 million membrane filtration system, closing costs and a bond reserve fund for contingencies.

Wheeling taxpayers can expect to spend $66.63 million during the next 30 years to retire that debt, repaid with proceeds from the 53.1-percent rate increase that went into effect after the May bond sale.

Construction of the new facility, plus rehabilitation of old sections of the plant, is expected to last two years and is being conducted by Shook Construction of Dayton, Ohio.

Residential customers are paying about $10 more per month than before the rate increase, based on an average 4,500 gallons of monthly water usage.

Sam Morgan, CT Consultants of Wheeling engineer, said after the plant is completed Wheeling’s water quality will improve.

“Taste is a personal choice and depends on the source. … It will be every bit as good or better,” Morgan said.

The plant will use a membrane system as opposed to the current gravity filter system. Since much of the old plant will be renovated and reused, there will be no disruption of service, said Joe Mellon, vice president of Shook.

City Manager Robert Herron said plans for the plant began about 11 years ago, and water plant employees have worked hard to keep the facility in good working order. Now it just has to last another two years, he added.

“I think it will make it. It’s a tribute to the water treatment personnel,” Herron said

To make way for the new plant, four tennis courts along Osage Lane will be removed, but they are expected to be rebuilt behind the plant after work is completed, Herron said. In the meantime, the city is looking into possibly renovating other existing city tennis courts, such as those on Wheeling Island, for people and groups such as the Ohio Valley Tennis Academy to use. He said there currently is no city money available for such an endeavor.