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Wellsburg to get $1M in federal funds for storm sewer improvements å

WELLSBURG — West Virginia’s two U.S. Sennators, Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, announced $1,073,250 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be used to increase the capacity of storm sewers in Wellsburg.

Wellsburg officials said the grant will be used for an engineering study for the proposed construction of stormwater lines from streets on the hillside at the city’s east end.

“We have a lot of flooding downhill when we have major rainfall,” said Mayor Sue Simonetti.

City Manager Steve Maguschak said he and others hope to secure additional funding to extend stormwater lines from the areas of Pleasant Avenue and Duvall, Franklin and High streets, a project that has been estimated at $9 million.

“This is just the first step. Once we’ve got the engineering, we will seek funds for the construction,” said Maguschak.

He said diverting heavy runoff from the hill could reduce or eliminate the need for the separation of sanitary and storm sewer lines in the city.

The city currently faces millions of dollars in sewer separations ordered by state environmental officials because raw sewage has entered the Ohio River from the combined sewers overtaxed by heavy rain.

Maguschak noted heavy runoff from the hillside has been a recurring problem.

“I’ve been working on this since I started here,” said Maguschak, who is in his fourth year as city manager.

“We’re going to keep pounding away ’til we get this system straightened out,” he said.

Capito and Manchin are members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“West Virginians have bounced back from the pain and destruction the terrible 2016 floods caused, but we still have more to do,” Manchin stated in a press release announcing the funding. “This funding provided by FEMA will help prepare us for future flooding and help prevent potential damages to our infrastructure and communities.”

Capito said the effort will make a difference.

“FEMA is an important federal partner in restoring communities devastated by disaster,” Capito said. “This funding will help Wellsburg restore infrastructure lost or damaged during the 2016 flood. This new infrastructure will help mitigate damages stemming from future natural disasters and increase Wellsburg’s preparedness.”

Capito serves as chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee which funds FEMA.

“I’m proud to see this funding come to West Virginia,” Capito said.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for additional resources that support infrastructure to prevent future disasters in West Virginia,” Manchin said.

In addition to Manchin and Capito, Simonetti expressed thanks to U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, who also pushed for funding for the project, and Barb Zimnox, community development specialist for the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, who assisted with the grant application.

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