Ravenswood has moved one step closer to making a $5-million upgrade to the city’s water infrastructure into a reality.

The city council recently approved the second reading of a water-rate increase from $13.15 to $23.71, which is still one of the lowest rates in the area, Mayor Josh Miller said.

The public will have a 45-day window to protest the rate increase with the West Virginia Public Service Commission before it goes into effect. Miller said all of the paperwork needed to file a protest is available at city hall located at 212 Walnut St. So far, though, no one has opposed the increase, he said.

“Since my first day in office, major improvements to our water and sewer infrastructure system has been a top priority. Moving these projects forward in a fiscally responsible manner has also been a top priority of our city council. After a year and a half of work, I believe we’ve approved the best option for our city and our citizens while continuing to have one of the lowest water tariff rates in our region and in the state of West Virginia,” Miller said.

The project will include improvements to the city’s water lines and tanks, as well as updates to the pumping station and new radio-read water meters. Also, city residents will be able to pay their city bills online or by debit or credit card at city hall.

The city has 116,000 linear feet of water main lines, three 500,000-gallon water tanks, and a hydro-pneumatic pumping station. The tanks must be re-coated to prevent failure caused by corrosion, Miller said. If the tanks are not re-coated, it would cost $300,000 or more to replace just one. The project also will include the replacement of 3,000 feet of water line and up to 50 gate valves. The gate valves are of particular concern because they currently are not functioning correctly, which has led to major problems controlling leaks in the past.

Improving the aging infrastructure is vital in preventing future problems, Councilman Steve Tucker said.

“Some of these things have been neglected for a long time,” Tucker said. “It’s just like owning a home; there’s basic maintenance that has to be done or at some point the systems are going to fail.”

The project also will involve replacing 1,808 manual-read water meters with new radio-read meters, which can be read much more quickly than traditional meters.

In addition to replacing water lines, valves and meters, the water treatment facility is in need of repairing and upgrading. The plant also needs an emergency generator so electricity can be supplied in the event of a power outage.

The project also would involve installing a telemetry system that would allow, among other things, the remote monitoring of water levels in the storage tanks.

These are improvements that must be made, Miller said.

“Inaction is simply no longer an option for our ailing infrastructure. I firmly believe that outside of foreign and domestic terrorism, our nation’s greatest national security threat is our crumbling infrastructure,” Miller said. “Fixing these issues is also the key to future economic growth in our state. The City of Ravenswood is committed to upgrading our technology to make our water system infrastructure more efficient, not only for operational purposes, but more efficient for our citizens. We will continue to strive to make our city a better place for our citizens and our businesses.”

Tucker said he is pleased with the preliminary work that has been done to ensure funding for the project. The city is applying for USDA loan to fund the project, and the rate increase will be a vital component to repaying that debt.

“I thought it went very smoothly. I think it’s common sense. People understand that you’ve got to take care of these things,” Tucker said.