Follansbee council briefed on water plans

FOLLANSBEE — City Council on Tuesday was updated on some plans eyed for the city’s water treatment system.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said Paul Ghosh, city engineering consultant, is exploring options to upgrade the system, including increasing the capacity for the water treatment plant and using the Hooverson Heights plant as a booster station.

Years after the city was ordered by the West Virginia Public Service Commission to take over the Hooverson Heights Public Service District, a link was created between the Hooverson Heights plant and the city’s downtown water plant that allowed either to serve as a backup for the other.

The Hooverson Heights plant drew water from the Ohio River, something that began when the district had another plant closer to the river, while the city itself drew water from underground wells.

Velegol said in the future all of the city’s water customers may be served solely from the wells, which is less costly than operating a treatment system drawing from the river.

City Manager John DeStefano said the savings could be as much as $100,000 per year, which can be applied to major improvements and repairs to the aging water treatment system.

Fourth Ward Councilman Rudy Cipriani noted last month council approved increases to the city’s water and sewer rates to generate sufficient funds for operations and comply with a new state requirement that 12.5 percent of the water and sewer departments’ operating budget be reserved for future repairs and improvements. DeStefano said repairs and improvements include replacing pump stations and installing larger storm sewer lines to prevent flooding at the city’s south end.

In other business:

¯ City Fire Chief Larry Rea recommended council approve the $589,744 purchase of a pumper/foam truck from the Sutphen Corp. of Dublin, Ohio. Rea said he’s working to secure private donations to supplement a $422,500 federal Fire Act grant awarded for the truck. The city must provide a match of 5 percent, or about $22,500. The purchase will be considered at next Monday’s regular council meeting at 7 p.m.

¯ Plans were made to set up the portable ice skating rink on the Highland Hills basketball court, provided it fits. Velegol and 5th Ward Councilman Scott McMahon said they have received requests for it in light of the recent frigid weather.

(Scott can be contacted at