MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) is in the midst of filling up its “secondary drinking water reservoir,” as of February 7.
The new reservoir currently holds about 100,000,000 gallons of water, out of the 370,000,000 gallons it will hold once completely filled. It will be used to help supplement the board’s current primary source, which is the Monongahela River, in case the river needs to be taken offline.
This reservoir was on its second “holding period,” of three that MUB needs to meet. According to Cory Jones, MUB senior engineer, once the water gets to certain benchmarks or elevations, they have to maintain that level for a week period. This allows the utility board to regulate valves by letting water in and out.
The idea came about for the second reservoir back in 2014 when the Freedom Industries spills contaminated the Elk River in Charleston. A senate bill came out shortly after that made all utility boards in West Virginia look at their secondary drinking source.
While MUB bought the property for the new reservoir back in the 1960s for future endeavors, designing of the new reservoir began in 2015. Actual construction on the site began in 2019 through 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and weather affecting some of the progress. The dam was completed in July 2022. MUB began filling the reservoir with a foot of water a day in January 2023.
Jones brought up the 2014 situation in Charleston before making comment on why he feels this second reservoir is important to have for the community. “People don’t realize how – sometimes don’t realize how sacred, water, fresh water, is until you don’t have it. And that was a big reason why this was pushed for that is we didn’t want to, you know, end up in that scenario, with people out of water,” he said. He added that major industries, like the hospital, would need drinking water at all points in time. “It was a big push to make sure that we’re providing clean reliable drinking water to everybody.”
Key differences between the current fresh-water drinking source and the secondary source are:
- Fresh-water reservoir off of Mississippi Street – Two to three-day water supply
- New reservoir on Cobun Creek Road – About thirty-day water supply
With the help of Mother Nature, Jones said that MUB is hoping to have the reservoir completely filled by mid-March.