Does MUB Know What It’s Doing?

Even by its own admissions of late, MUB does not know what it is doing. MUB never should have worked along Mississippi Street for the new reservoir pipeline it now may abandon there. MUB should never have decided to plow through witness trees and a main trail in White Park. MUB never should have forgotten (how?) that it no longer owns the land of White Park and must seek explicit city permission to dig and cut there.

Furthermore, MUB has yet to admit (and may never) that it should not have planned to dig its new pipeline through a couple old oil tank sites on the edge of the White Park reservoir, the water of which MUB says it intends to continue to use periodically for area drinking water. The hazardous waste underground in White Park should remain there undisturbed unless dug up specifically for remediation purposes, not for pipeline routes or anything else.

White Park is an active CERCLA (hazardous waste) site, underground. It sits across the Monongahela River from the Industrial Park which itself contains a Superfund (hazardous waste) site, plus gas fracking wells, and other industrial activity. Between all this permanent potential contamination is MUB’s drinking water intake in the river, supplying everyone in the Greater Morgantown, Monongalia County area. Why?

Why does MUB’s drinking water intake remain situated between the active CERCLA site of White Park and the Superfund site across the river of the Industrial Park with fracking and other industrial activity, potential contamination sources all? Why has MUB’s intake not long since been moved well up the Monongahela River? And why has the MUB reservoir been allowed to remain in White Park, a (barely underground) hazardous waste site, former oil storage depot and toxic waste dump, still partly unremediated? Why does MUB intend to continue using this reservoir in the hazardous waste site even after the new reservoir upstream is completed? Instead of fixing up the old reservoir dam as planned, MUB should consider releasing that water, or at least never using it again for drinking. (Maybe save money there and use it to add a river water intake upstream, finally.)

No wonder MUB wanted a $9 or $10 million pipeline from the new reservoir, rather than wash water down through the CERCLA site.

What pipeline put through White Park is safe? That is, what guarantee that digging will not disturb hazardous waste and wash it into the old reservoir and into the river and thereby into area drinking water, given MUB’s existing water intake location?

Before any digging in the CERCLA site, if any digging there, why shouldn’t MUB move its existing river water intake far upstream of all the hazards?: the industrial park, the gas fracking wells, the Superfund site, the CERCLA site, the sprawling former oil depot, etc. MUB should have moved its river intake long ago, for a mere $5 million. It should be moved now. Adding a second intake even a little ways upriver could make a big difference in a crisis.

Is there any evidence that MUB seriously looked for and considered a different watershed for a new reservoir, one that didn’t feed through a hazardous waste site as currently? Did MUB even consider Joes Run? And why not put a second water intake into a separate river pool far above the permanently toxic nexus within which MUB currently operates? For $34 million, MUB could have put a second intake in the river’s Opekiska pool, not far above Joes Run, a stream that might have served as a separate watershed sufficient for a small new reservoir, easily tied into an Opekiska pipeline. This potential option would have given MUB two river water intakes, plus two reservoirs in multiple watersheds, a great upgrade in safety and security compared to its current situation and $50 million venture that is costing MUB customers a reported additional $22 per billing cycle, on average.

Did MUB make a $50 million mistake? Recent and past serious MUB mistakes – including Scotts Run PSD backpedaling, development plan blindsides of local communities, and the White Park pipeline fiascos – only some of which have been admitted to by MUB head Tim Ball, make clear that the decisions and leadership at MUB should be thoroughly re-examined to determine whether or not MUB has unwittingly done a grave disservice to area rate-payers and residents, to their finances, health, and environment.

The Morgantown City Manager, if not eligible to be a voting member of MUB, should be required to attend every MUB (board) meeting. Likewise a County Commissioner. Too much happens at MUB too quietly that’s of too great importance to the city and surrounds for top Morgantown and County officials to not be close at hand.

Does MUB know what it is doing? Are the actions and inactions of MUB itself the greatest ongoing threat to the safety and security of area drinking water? Given MUB’s recent flailing, past issues, and other dubious and disturbing decisions, these questions should not be avoided.

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