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County water board is urged to redirect funds for prison line to some other project


An engineer has advised the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to ask for a loan intended for pay for sewer line design to a proposed prison site at Roxana be redirected to another project, since the federal government has withdrawn its record of decision for the prison.

Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering said last week that the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) has invited the district to participate in this year’s Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The funding is for the project to extend lines to the proposed federal prison, but the prison is currently on hold and its future is uncertain.

Bowman advised the board that it should consider accepting the loan invitation, but submit a request to reallocate the funding for a different KIA project. The plans for the hydraulic model are almost finished and Bowman suggested that planning should include extending water lines from Roxana to Blackey. He said that regardless of the outcome of the federal prison project, there are hundreds of homes in the area that need water badly.

The preliminary design for the wastewater treatment plant for the prison project is complete and a geotechnical investigation should be done soon. Bowman said the work can be done under the current contract as an additional service and these activities are usually covered under existing Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) funding. He said there will be no need for water tanks unless the prison project is reinstated, and that the existing water pressure is adequate for most needs otherwise.

Repairs to broken water lines and detection of other leaks should reduce the Letcher County Water and Sewer District’s costs for purchasing water from the Knott County Water District. In response to a question from Board Member Richard Carter, District Manager

Mark Lewis said he expects the costs from leaks to decline after several months. Increased water purchase costs from leaks are borne by the district and are not passed on to customers. The Kentucky Public Service Commission is responsible for approving or denying rate increases.

Studies are complete and revised opinions of probable cost for the Gordon 510 Water Project, the Kingscreek Project, and the Millstone Project have been submitted to AML. The Rural Community Assistance Project is working with Black Mountain Utilities about a regional water line interconnect to serve the area.

In other business, a funding request has been submitted to AML for an alternate source of water supply for the district and the board is waiting for a response from the selection committee. Bowman said that AML will send out invitations for interviews in August. The problem of supplying water to replace wells damaged by mining in the Carbon Glow area has been settled with Kingdom Coal. No further action is required from the district. The board is waiting for the commitment of funds from AML for Phase III of the Red Star/Turkey Creek Water Project.

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