PIEDMONT - Ben Smith, Piedmont's water commissioner, gave an update on the water situation in the community during Wednesday's council meeting, mentioning that he had been in contact with the offices of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, along with other legislators.
By Jean Braithwaite
PIEDMONT - Ben Smith, Piedmont’s water commissioner, gave an update on the water situation in the community during Wednesday’s council meeting, mentioning that he had been in contact with the offices of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, along with other legislators.
Smith continues to work toward making sure that Piedmont has an ongoing water supply, and he said that he has even been in contact with “senators out of our region.”
He said, “Verso wants to get our water pipeline off their bridge,” referring to the wooden bridge that connects the paper mill property and Piedmont, located near the former Piedmont High School area.
“We have to look at reality,” he said, adding that the only way to receive funding for a water project is to go on Westernport water.
Smith said that four different agencies have completed studies on obtaining a water source for Piedmont, and the consensus was to “go on Westernport water.”
Saying that using Westernport water in flushing fire hydrants or fighting fires in the community would mean using clean water from Westernport.
He continued and said, “It is about the funding now,” as he added costs will include new water meters and water usage billing upgrade.
Smith had spoken to the Environmental Protection Agency and the advice received from them centered around that if water for Piedmont would be taken from the Potomac River to stay above the paper mill and away from any pollutants.
He said that at the present it is too late to be on the 2020 budget for the Army Corps of Engineers to assist with any water project, however filing for assistance could be on their 2021 budget.
Smith added that funding could be based on the population of Piedmont, which now shows the number of local citizens at around 800, while in 1940, there were 2,700 people in the community.
He added that he average income for Piedmont’s citizens is tied into the Cumberland Valley statistics.
“I have tried to change that,” Smith said, and yet, “I have received no answers.”
He said, “I want this community to have water,” as he said that in the future a public meeting will be held to give the latest information to the citizens.
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the next Piedmont council meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov.26, at 6 p.m. at the council building