Water Workers Bemoan Pipeliners

July 19, 2012
By Casey Junkins , Shale Play

MOUNDSVILLE - George Lagos, Bob Richmond and Mark Lamp have their hands full in trying to keep track of all the waterline breaks and exposures they said are being caused by natural gas pipeliners in Marshall County.

"They've got 700 and some odd people working out here (on the pipelines) - and that's just one company. There's just no way for us to keep up with all of it," said Lagos, general manager and chief operator for Marshall County Public Service District No. 4.

"With only three of us working for the whole district, we can't be everywhere at once."

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Recently, Lagos and his assistants, Richmond and Lamp, responded when pipeliners left a waterline exposed to the sun in the area of Roberts Ridge. The line eventually broke, Lagos said, causing the district to lose even more water when the supply is already low because the June 29 storms damaged several water pumps.

In addition to the potential water loss from a break, Lagos said having an active waterline that is delivering water to his customers totally exposed to the summer sun opens the possibility of bacterial growth in the water passing through the line.

"We got that one fixed," Lagos said of the 2-inch line. "They eventually sandbagged it like they were supposed to do in the first place."

Lagos also has found an exposed waterline at Bane Lane in the Beelers Station area hanging from a tree branch in the sunlight. Since July 4, Lagos said pipeline companies have caused three more breaks in his waterlines.

Attempts to reach pipeline companies working in Marshall County have been unsuccessful.

"Some of them just seem to do whatever, whenever," he said of the pipeline crews. "They keep telling us they will (call) us to let us know what they are doing. But we just can't keep up with all of them - and we can't watch all of them."

Lagos said he wants a 48-hour notice from pipeliners when they are going to build their lines across his waterlines so he or one of his assistants can watch the project progress. However, sometimes he gets only a few hours notice, or none at all, he said.

Lagos is also still looking for frackers who may be taking water from his fire hydrants for use at drilling sites or on the roads. The Public Service Commission of West Virginia recently issued a public warning against those who may be doing this.

"We are really doing all we can to get a handle on all of these things, but we just don't have enough people. We have got to start getting some more cooperation from these pipeliners," he said.