Uniting over pipeline not a pipe dream

A never the twain shall meet policy usually does not reflect the needs of the real world.
That premise is in reference to the mistaken notion that  often separates engineering from the environment.
In the latest example, the Morgantown Utility Board initially intended to clear a path through White Park’s old-growth forest to lay a pipeline from a new secondary source reservoir to its water treatment plant.
Once that plan came to the public’s attention outraged citizens and officials called MUB out. To its credit MUB owned up to its mistakes and quickly reversed course.
MUB also put all the options for the new path of  this pipeline on the table to negotiate with the public.
Following a session with the Board of Parks and Recreation Commission last week, MUB further cleared the air about its mistakes and scheduled two more public meetings in May.
We think it incumbent now on the public to take a sensible approach to this new pipeline and work with MUB to find a resolution.
That’s not to suggest this pipeline needs to run through White Park. Indeed, we’re almost  inclined to think it need not.
MUB has already designated alternate paths for this pipeline, which would avoid the park entirely.
Yet,  coming to the table and talking, even just about plans for further talks, is almost always worthwhile and can lead to the best options.
To its credit,  the public does appear to be engaging MUB more so in a dialogue than in  protest or sustained outrage.
One thing that everyone needs to recognize is this pipeline is critical to our community’s public safety.
The Monongahela River, our primary water source, is vulnerable to everything from fuel spills to blowouts from abandoned mines, at any time.
It’s true, the current reservoir is pretty much only used as a precautionary measure for a few hours in the event of diesel fuel spills.
MUB can shut off intake from the Monongahela River within 5 minutes and supply customers via this reservoir without service interruption.
However, in the event MUB had to switch over to the current reservoir for long-term use, it could only supply about three days of water.
That is wholly inadequate and the ongoing project to build a new reservoir, that can supply clean water for 30 days if the river is contaminated, is vital.
These talks between MUB and the public need not go on forever, however, there need not be some arbitrary deadline, either.
We encourage MUB and the public to respect each others’ opinions and strive to get this right.
Too often two things seem so different as to have no opportunity to ever afford a meeting of the minds. This twain must meet.

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