Elkins wins Water System of the Year


ELKINS — The city of Elkins water department has received a pair of state-wide awards, including an honor the city has never won before.

Elkins was named the 2018 Water System of the Year by the West Virginia Rural Water Association during the organization’s annual awards banquet in Charleston.

“That’s the state association of all the water and wastewater systems in West Virginia,” said Bob Pingley, the city’s operations manager. “This is the first time the city has ever won the award. It’s actually for the whole water system.”

Pingley acknowledged that putting the city’s new $37 million water plant online in the past year was a factor in Elkins winning the award.

“I’m sure the new plant brought some attention to us, being able to get the new system up and running, having a successful major project,” he said, adding that Wes Lambert, chief operator of the city water plant, deserved credit for the work he’s done.

In addition to the Water System of the Year award, Elkins’ Mike Currence received the Waste Water Collection System Operator of the Year honor from the West Virginia Rural Water Association.

Pingley said the city was not notified it would win either award, and that the Operator of the Year honor was a complete surprise.

“We had an idea that we were going to get the Water System of the Year, but we had no idea about Mike Currence winning,” he said. “It was a nice surprise all the way around.”

Ironically, Currence retired from the city last week, after 35 years of service. His last day was Oct. 31.

“We hate to see him go, but he will still be working part-time,” Pingley told Elkins City Council during their meeting on Nov. 1. “With him agreeing to stay part-time, that will help with the transition.”

Pingley said many city employees contributed to help the city earn recognition this year.

“It’s a team effort,” he said. “The whole group of who works on the water utility, from us here in the office to the folks at the utility building to the guys at the water plant to the guys who go out and fix the leaks in the street. It’s a tribute to all of us, I think. It’s an award by our peers so that makes it a little more special.”

The water department has 16 full-time employees and one part-time worker, Pingley said.