James A. Leslie, Jr.

Best Practice Recognition
The City of Hinton, West Virginia,
and American Water Works
Regional Water Project

The Mercer/Summers Regional Water Project began in 1992 when local elected officials and American Water Works subsidiary, West Virginia-American Water Company, met to discuss the expansion problems of Pipestem State Park. The state park, located between the Cities of Hinton and Princeton, West Virginia, was having to turn away guests because of the lack of a reliable water source. The parkís closest available sources for public water service were in the two cities, but the mountainous terrain that separated the park from each city created a hydraulic and costly challenge to getting water to Pipestem. In addition, both cities were served by aging water treatment facilities with insufficient land available for plant expansion. At the meeting, the local officials identified other economic development opportunities that were being lost because of the lack of a quality source of drinking water in the region.

In an effort to shape the future of the region, a comprehensive long-term solution to the water supply needs of the area was developed. What resulted was the largest public-private partnership in West Virginia history designed to supply high-quality drinking water to the greater region around Hinton and Princeton. The regional water project involved the cooperative efforts of the two cities, the counties of Mercer and Summers, the Oakvale Road Public Service District, the West Virgina-American Water Company, and various state agencies.

The project began construction in March 1995. The West Virginia-American Water Company constructed a 5 million gallon-per-day state-of-the-art water treatment plant and intake structure sufficient to serve the needs of the entire area, while the public partners constructed 21 miles of transmission lines and a majority of the 42 miles of distribution lines. The project was completed in March 1997 at a cost of over $44 million. The water company made an initial investment of $23 million in the project, and continues to provide a revenue stream to the public partners to service a $14.7 million public sector loan. To complete the funding, the public partners successfully pursued $7.1 million in grants from various local, state and federal agencies. West Virginia-American Water is responsible for all operation and maintenance of the project facilities.

The projectís success can be attributed to the spirit of cooperation that existed from the first meeting in 1992. It continues to this day. This project would never have been completed without the participation of all parties involved. As a result of the project, a $10 million expansion to Pipestem State Park is nearing completion and the project participants are planning additional extensions to adjacent areas.

In summary, the partnership has brought about many benefits that will improve the quality of life for the regionís residents for many years into the future by:

  • Providing reliable water and fire protection service for over 45,000 residents;
  • Providing 5,000 residents with a quality public water supply for the very first time;
  • Supporting business and economic development efforts through an abundant supply of quality water;
  • Designing a treatment plant that can be upgraded to three times its current capacity with little added investment;
  • Eliminating the need to upgrade two older treatment facilities;
  • Creating additional tax revenue as a result of the companyís investment in the project;
  • Providing reasonable end user rates and charges because of the ability to leverage private and public funding; and
  • Providing drinking water that meets all state and federal water quality standards.

Because of the success of this project, this public-private partnership model is currently being used to construct regional water systems in five other West Virginia counties, while an additional five counties are considering following suit. 

For more information, please contact:

Chris E. Jarrett, President
West Virginia-American Water Company
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Charleston, WV 25302
Telephone: (304) 340-2000
Fax: (304) 340-2076

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