|By Bob Weaver|
Small rural public service districts that provide water to a limited customer base are facing financial problems, including the Mt. Zion PSD which has 516 customers, with the numbers declining.
Additionally, the Mt. Zion PSD has miles of antiquated lines and facilities, being the county's first PSD in the 1960s, with more that 46 miles of line, two county schools and two fire departments.
The WV Public Service Commission has put the Mt. Zion PSD on alert, suggesting they consolidate with another local PSD or the Grantsville operation.
"The Mt. Zion PSD has certainly had its share of ups and downs in recent years," said Shelia Burch, a recently appointed board member who is president of the board, which also includes another new appointee Anita West, in addition to Shirley Mace.
Burch said the state PSC recently had a general investigation into the Mt. Zion PSDs meter reading problems and its estimated billing practices.
Judge Matthew Minney asked the new board members if they were willing to consolidate services with Pleasant Hill PSD or the Town of Grantsville water service.
The Mt. Zion PSD purchases water from the Town of Grantsville, and according to WV-PSC, it is one of the highest wholesale water rates in the state.
Pleasant Hill PSD and Grantsville both have lower water rates.
The PSD is behind on outstanding loans to the USDA due to billing issues related to faulty radio read meters installed in 2018.
Insult to injury, the system recently loss one million gallons of water with a leak in the West Fork River, causing the February water bill to increase $7,000.
The Town of Grantsville says they are unable to forgive the $7,000. "It is difficult to overcome such huge water losses and remain a viable system," said Burch.
Board member Anita West said the PSD board is proud that workers often go above and beyond what is expected of them, the PSD having a working relationship with emergency services, having recently created a public information Facebook page.
Board president Burch said, "Although the problems continue, we are committed to work with local, state and federal officials to see that our customers have high quality water and sewer service."
Twice during the past 20 years, efforts were made to consolidate Calhoun PSDs, Neither effort got off the ground.