West Virginia will use more than $6 million from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fund water infrastructure repair and development. The new funding will help secure reliable, clean, safe, and affordable water and wastewater for many citizens in areas that have struggled with aging and inadequate water infrastructure. The money will also help with flood mitigation across the Mountain State.
With strong support from West Virginia U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito — alongside U.S. Representative David McKinley — the funding will be used in various locations across the state for repairs. It also will support new studies on better dams and flood protection. In southern West Virginia, where more than 10% of residents have running water coming from waterways with drinking water violations in 2022, the funding is critical to a healthy water supply. The state’s supply recently ranked as the least healthy in America, while its water infrastructure scored a D from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Rural and small communities are particularly hard hit.
“Every West Virginian deserves clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe,” said Manchin. “That’s why in our bipartisan infrastructure law, I fought to include funding that will help update and improve our water infrastructure throughout the state.”
Flood protection is also a funding priority in a state where many counties face regular flooding, with significant loss of property and life. Seventeen watershed areas — including the Upper Buffalo Creek, Salem Fork, South Fork River, Polk Creek, Mill Creek, and Wolf Creek watersheds — will receive $55,000 from the act as a part of the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. The money will go to reviewing existing flood mitigation and creating new and safer plans to manage each watershed.
Towns with water safety issues are at the top of the priority list. Williamson will receive $1.5 million to upgrade its water storage, distribution, and treatment facilities, while Shady Spring will receive more than $1 million to improve the Glen Morgan Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The town of Fort Gay, along the Big Sandy and Tug Fork rivers, will receive $1.325 million to fix seven wastewater pumps and pump stations. Fort Gay will also get a new wastewater treatment plant, shutting down the existing wastewater lagoon. More than a million dollars will flow into Webster County for a waterline extension.
“These investments are another great example of West Virginia reaping the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Southern West Virginia, in particular, struggles with inadequate water and wastewater infrastructure, which is why the … program was created to provide dedicated assistance to this region of our state,” Capito added. “The funding announced will help ensure more than 6,000 West Virginians receive access to reliable, affordable, safe, and clean water and wastewater.”
The federal water infrastructure funding is a result of a push from Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the federal Committee on Energy and Commerce. He argued for the immediate need to allocate significant funding for water system improvements across the country, citing decades without repairs for many.
“We have an incredible opportunity in this moment to build resiliency and invest in the future of communities,” he said. “We also have an opportunity to continue to work on a bipartisan basis to ensure these funds have a long-lasting impact.”