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Another water setback for Cumberland River area

An attempt to provide a temporary water source for some residents of the Cumberland River area has failed.

Tests were conducted to ensure that the City of Cumberland could provide water for a portion of the area until a water plant can be built to provide water for the entire Cumberland River area of Letcher County. However, testing revealed that the City of Cumberland does not have adequate water pressure to serve as a temporary water source, although similar tests last year showed that it had enough water pressure.

At the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering reported that recent pressure testing revealed a discrepancy with readings taken in 2017 that indicated that the city’s water system was adequate to serve as a water source for the Cumberland River area. The City of Cumberland has hired an engineer to work on the problem, and will conduct a formal inquiry into the discrepancy.

Bowman said the Regional

Water Commission, composed of water districts in Lynch, Benham, and Letcher County, will move forward with finding a suitable site to build a water treatment plant to serve its needs. The commission, which is headed by Letcher County Judge/ Executive Jim Ward, will meet at 2 p.m. on August 22 at the Cumberland River Fire Department.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Bowman said the finding represents “a significant milestone” in efforts to provide a water source for the Cumberland River area. Other efforts to provide a source have failed, including purchasing water from the Wise County Water District, and it has become obvious that the Cumberland River Water Project can only be served by a stand-alone water plant, which will also provide a constant source of clean water for Benham and Lynch.

Bowman said the treatment plant project, which is supported by U.S. Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers, is ready for the next stage, and added that designs for the plant have been completed, He said that due to the importance placed on securing the water source, the project will take funding priority with funding agencies. Judge/Executive Jim Ward and representatives of the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) were able to obtain funds from the Kentucky Department of Local Government to pay for the design phase.

In other business, the board issued a request for proposals to procure engineering services for construction of the wastewater treatment facility for the federal prison at Roxana and water lines on Highway 7. Bell Engineering and GRW Engineers of Lexington both submitted bids and after grading them, the committee chose Bell Engineering.

All lines for Phase II of the Red Star, Ulvah, Hallie and Turkey Creek Water Improvements Project have been installed, tested, and disinfected. The contractor is waiting on blacktop to finish repairing roads disturbed by the work. The contractor has been advised that a warranty letter cannot be issued and the final inspection by Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) cannot take place until blacktopping is complete.

The majority of the design for Phase II of the Millstone Water Project is now complete and a site visit is scheduled for District Manager Mark Lewis and representatives of Bell Engineering, so plans can be finalized and submitted to AML. The tank site and pump station for Phase III of the Red Star Water Project will need to be surveyed and property acquisition for each site will need to be completed. Site visits to conduct the survey and to obtain easements and property descriptions are underway, and the district has started working on the AML checklist.

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