The main water line that serves Letcher County residents living east of the Craft’s Colly Bridge is in danger of breaking. If the line breaks, it will cut water off for everyone between the bridge and Mayking, who gets water from the city of Whitesburg, including Letcher County Central High School. Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill told the Whitesburg City Council at its January meeting that the water line, which runs under the Craft’s Colly railroad bridge, has been stretched by the river current until it was bowed out as much as 20 to 30 feet from its original position.
Caudill said the water from Craft’s Colly Creek coming into the Kentucky River has washed the bank out and that caused the pipe to bow. He added that it is only a matter of time until high water or heavy debris in the river like a tree strikes the line and ruptures it, which will stop water service for everyone of the other side of the river along US 119.
Caudill told the council the lines serve the water tank near Letcher County Central High School that pressurizes the entire system on that side of the river. He said the line was laid before the new school was built and he guessed it was laid to serve customers as far as the Ermine Double Kwik. Caudill said if the line does break it could be fixed temporarily but it will take boring underneath the river and running a new line to actually solve the problem and keep it from occurring again.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who is working with the city on a new intake for the City Water Plant, said the contractor for the Payne Gap Water Project has a boring machine and the cost for boring under the riverbed would probably be around $22,000, at $150 per foot. Caudill said he has most of the necessary parts to repair the line in an emergency and will order the rest immediately
Caudill said he and other city workers were working on the sewer lift station at the high school earlier that day when one of them spotted the line. He said the high school lift station has not been able to handle the volume of flow from the school area since the vocational school building was added to the school and that in itself will require new pumps. He said the lift station is currently owned by Letcher County Schools and the system as has agreed that if it replaces the pumps it will turn the station over to the city for future maintenance.
Caudill also reported that grease from the Walmart Shopping Center remains a major problem for the city and added that although both restaurants in the center have functioning grease traps, it obviously isn’t enough. He said a pump at the Walmart lift station will also have to be replaced due to damage from grease. Councilman James Bates complained about the odor at the Whitesburg Post Office and Caudill said it is because the pumps at the high school don’t generate enough flow to keep the sewage moving through the pipes and it becomes septic. He said pump trucks removed two 2,500-gallon tankers of raw sewage from the pump station and nearby sewer lines on Tuesday. He added that the pumps were sufficient before the vocational school was built.
In other business, Paul Nesbitt told the council that work on the water intake is ongoing and should be finished in about 30 days. He said the air purge system to clear the screen covering the intake has to be installed and some parts are not in yet.
In his Mayor’s Report, Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council the Christmas Parade was a tremendous success and thanked all the people who attended and those who participated in the parade. Craft also welcomed newly elected council member Thomas Sexton to the council and said he looks forward to serving with him. Craft said there has been no movement on package licenses for the city from the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and no news from it either.
“It’s all in the hands of the state,” said Craft. “We’re waiting to find out how they are going to do it.”
Craft also told the council that the Reverend Tony Brown of the Whitesburg First Baptist Church, who also serves as city chaplain, has written a book and will conduct a book signing at the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library in Whitesburg on Tuesday, January 15, from 2 until 6 p.m.