Water systems more reliable, efficient thanks to Philippi-based tech company
Long gravel roads like these are scattered throughout rural West Virginia.
They're roads public service district water managers travel frequently to get to their water tanks - like workers at the Century Volga Public Service District in Barbour County.
Three guys oversee the maintenance of 100 miles of pipe and six of these water tanks.
But their small crew has some big and advanced help managing that workload.
Mike Masterman is the president and founder of Extreme Endeavors, the company behind the PSD's new water monitoring system.
"Go turn on your water faucet," Masterman said. "You expect clean water. This enables that to happen."
Extreme Endeavors is a Philippi-based technology company with a staff of fewer than 10 people. It was founded roughly 20 years ago in Antarctica. Masterman moved to Barbour County to take advantage of the low operational costs and rural landscape.
His small company developed and manufactured software and hardware for what they say is one of the most detailed water monitoring systems in the world. All components of the water monitoring system are developed in Philippi.
Rocky Gallo is one of the water operators benefiting from the automated system.
"We've learned to read all of it," Gallo said. "This enables us to see it visually. As soon as we walk in, we can see the whole thing right up on the screen."
Gallo has been in this line of work for close to a decade. He'll also soon be the manager of the district's new sewage plant under construction.
This automation of the district's water process was a game-changer for him and the rest of his staff.
"It has really really helped us out a lot," Gallo said.
The system, which uses an Internet of Things communication system, has made their jobs more efficient.
It means it's saving the PSD time and money. It means fewer trips on those backroads to monitor gauges on the water tanks. It also means more accurate readings on their system. Instant alerts are sent out when there's an issue.
"It helps us do things faster," Gallo said. "If we have a break, we see it immediately and we're out there right away fixing it."
Every detail PSD managers wanted in the program was incorporated by the software developers. The system is also available on smartphones.
If there's a break or leak, managers can turn pumps off remotely, ultimately avoiding emptying a tank completely and prompting a boil water advisory.
"By providing a better control system, we can then eliminate the times the tanks run dry and eliminate the boil water advisories," Masterman said.
For the icing on the cake, the program is also equipped with a voice assistant.
Extreme Endeavors currently operates in districts across West Virginia including in Barbour and Taylor Counties. It's also expanding to Pennsylvania.
The company's leadership looks to expand to more and larger districts in the coming years.
"It's growing at a rate that we have trouble keeping up with it at times," Masterman said. "But that's part of the fun of it."