What’s that black stuff in Knapps Creek? Is anything being done to correct it? These were the questions I kept trying to answer much of last week and will try to share what happened, in this Mayors’ Corner.

Sunday before last, the Town of Marlinton, experienced an overflow at the combined sewer overflow (CSO). The CSO is located at the south end of the ball field and to the east side of the Railroad Bridge that crosses Knapp Creek.

Yes – the black stuff is sewer, mixed with ground water. Yes – the Town reported the spill to the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP). Yes – the Town is concerned about the issue and working to correct the problems. Like most problems, it takes money.

A portion of the system is 100 years old. The lift stations in town are worn out. They are beyond their life expectancy. This summer, both short-term overflows have been caused by mechanical malfunctions at the lift station, at the south end of Second Avenue. Everything from Edray to Lakeview, and in between, makes its way to that station. When it shuts down, the system begins to back up. In this respect, I have been thankful for a dry summer. Otherwise, the spills could have been much worse.

No one wants to see a spill take place. We strive to see spills never happen. But the Town’s entire system is in serious need of repairs or in some cases, total replacement. Many of you understand that this is the reason for the recent smoke-testing and other field work that is currently in progress.

This work must be completed to evaluate the entire system. Already, the cost of suggested repairs is well beyond the Town’s ability to pay. Be assured, every rock will be turned over, every possible resource will be exhausted in the search for funding these much-needed repairs. In the meanwhile, lesser repairs will be made that can lessen potential future spills.

The earlier spill gave the Town an opportunity to apply for a “critical-needs grant” at the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (IJDC). Thanks to the work of the Region 4 staff, the Town of Marlinton was successful in obtaining a 100% total grant of$100,000.

Remember, the core of the Towns problem is that we are in a river bottom. For that reason, the Town’s National Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit allows up to six overflows per year.