Phase two of Ripley’s wastewater improvement project is now underway.

The Ripley Utility Board is working to modernize and improve the wastewater system in Ripley and Evans to comply with environmental laws and provide residents with the best possible service.

The project began in 2013 in response to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) consent order for both Ripley and Evans. The city was assessed heavy fines and improvements were mandated by the WVDEP. Neither system would meet water quality standards for discharge into Mill Creek. Meeting the standards required a significant financial investment and increased fees for customers.

Phase one of the Wastewater Improvement Project was completed in 2017 and included work on manholes, constructing 10 new lift stations, and replacing many problem areas in the collection systems. The completion of Phase I was a great step in reaching compliance goals and enhancing public and environmental safety.

Phase II includes building the new state-of-the-art treatment plant which will nearly double the current capacity for Ripley and Evans. The sewer system is vital to the City’s infrastructure and major upgrades are needed for future growth and economic development. This will be a huge investment that is needed for the community.

The cost of the plant is $22.850 million. This is all-inclusive from start to finish, all the details such as engineering to materials and labor and also the securing of right of ways. The project is crucial to the City of Ripley and Evans and is mandated by the WVDEP.

What this means to the residents of Ripley and Evans, the sewer rates will increase over the next three years. The rate increases will not only help fund the system improvements, but also enable the City to be eligible to seek grants and keep rates as low as possible.

Effective July 1, 2019, residents of Ripley and Evans will see an increase of $6.71 per 3,000 gallons of water used. The amount of future increases has not yet been determined; however, they are set for January 2021 and again for the summer of 2022.

“I am committed to getting the city the lowest rates possible,” Mayor Carolyn Rader said.

Phase II of this project should be complete by November 2022.

Letters were recently mailed to all citizens of Ripley and Evans regarding the increase. The first reading of the rate increase ordinance took place during the Ripley City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 19. The second reading will take place during the 7 p.m. session of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 19. Prior to that meeting, beginning at 6 p.m., a public hearing will be held to discuss the ordinance and project.

For additional information or questions call Ripley City Hall at 304-372-3482 or visit the City of Ripley web age or the City of Ripley Facebook page for more news about this very important project.

In other business:

• Council voted to approve the minutes of the previous meeting as read.

• Council also approved the financial statements as presented.

• Chief of Police Brad Anderson reviewed the monthly report and reported he recently participated in a warrant sweep that resulted in over 50 arrests.

• Attorney Kevin Harris noted that all of the paperwork has been finished for the minor boundary adjustment for annexation. Harris also reported the legal advertisement had ran in the paper and the public hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 16, 2019 during the County Commission Meeting.

• Jim Mitchem stated that the water plant is back to operating normal hours.

• Matt Anderson reported that the city had purchased a used bucket truck.

• The first reading sewer rate ordinance was approved to authorize the issuance of not more than $1.5 million in aggregate principal amount of Sewage System Design Revenue Bonds. The second reading will be March 5, and the third reading and public hearing will be March 19.

• The first reading of the sewer rate increase was approved as presented. The second reading and public hearing will be on March 19 and the first rate increase will be effective on July 1, 2019.

• Chief Anderson made a recommendation to promote Clyde Kenny to the rank of Captain. Kenny has over 24 years of service to the City of Ripley. Council approved the promotion effective immediately. Ray Anderson recused himself from the vote.

• Chief Anderson also made a recommendation to promote Brian Anderson to the rank of Lieutenant. Brian Anderson has 12 years of law enforcement background. Council approved the promotion effectively immediately. Ray Anderson recused himself from the vote.