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County water rates won’t be increased as expected — for now


Water rates for customers of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District may not be increasing after all — at least for anytime soon.

At its February meeting, the water and sewer district’s Board of Directors were told that the Knott County Water District has rescinded the rate hike for which it had previously asked, pending a new rate study.

Letcher Water and Sewer District Manager Mark Lewis said he received a letter from the Knott District informing him the rate increase would be on hold while Knott monitors the flow of water it sells to Letcher County.

In January, the Letcher Water District was advised to file an application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission to determine if the Knott District has unlawfully terminated its agreement to provide water to the Letcher County District, and if $3 per 1,000 gallons is the lawful rate. That is, if $3 per 1,000 gallons is the contractually approved rate to purchase treated water. The advisory came from attorney Gerald E. Wuetcher of Stoll, Keenon, and Ogden PLLC of Lexington and Louisville.

In other business, Lewis reported that an ultrasonic flow meter has been inserted in lines at Blackey to monitor the flow in that area and alert the district about possible leaks. Lewis also asked permission to declare several vehicles surplus and the board approved the request. The list includes a “Ditch Witch” ditch digging machine. The entire list will be advertised in The Mountain Eagle and the district will accept bids according to the instructions in the advertisement.

Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering reported that district representatives and representatives of Bell Engineering will meet with Abandoned Mine Lands on February 28 to discuss an AML/Nexus application for funding. AML/Nexus relates to eligible projects that demonstrate a nexus with AML land and water goals. A nexus refers to a connection or a series of connections linking two or more things. AML uses funds paid by existing coal companies to reclaim coal mines abandoned before 1977, when the Surface Mine Reclamation and Control Act (SMRCA) was passed. Title IV of the SMRCA created AML.

Bell Engineering will remove pressure recorders from the Kentucky Highway 15 Interconnect and the collected data will be analyzed before the next board meeting. The recorders may be installed at a different location in March. The design work is ongoing for the waterlines to service the federal prison at Roxana and a Project Management Plan has been submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bell Engineering has received a copy of the plan and will review it and make comments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been contacted and the district will work with Bell Engineering to set up a USDA Rural Development funding request for the project.

A request for updated information concerning the wastewater treatment plant at the prison has been submitted to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a site visit is being planned for a facility similar to the one planned for the prison. A RD funding application is being prepared for the wastewater treatment plant as well.

The study for the Gordon/ Highway 510 Water Project is now complete and an Opinion of Probable Cost has been sent to AML. A request is being put together for a wholesale material purchase to support the line extensions, and the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP), has contacted the Black Mountain Utilities District to discuss a proposed interconnect.

The studies for the Kingscreek and Millstone Water Projects are also complete and updated Opinions of Probable Cost have been submitted to AML. The request to terminate monthly sampling for the Corrective Action Plan at the Millstone Sewer Treatment Plant was sent to the enforcement branch of the Kentucky Department of Water and the DOW has agreed to allow the district to resume quarterly sampling.

Bell Engineering has contacted the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority requesting a meeting to discuss funding options for an alternate source of water supply for the county. A meeting is scheduled for February at the KIA offices in Frankfort to discuss funding options. Quotes have been obtained for laboratory services for the source. Depending on the results of the KIA request, testing will begin when the quotes are evaluated.

An updated “opinion of probable cost” has been sent to AML for Phase III of the Turkey Creek/Red Star Water Project and applicable permitting is being reviewed. A request for repairs to approximately 200 feet of water line in Ulvah that was damaged by a slide in January has been submitted to AML (funders for the original project). AML representatives planned to visit the site last week following the meeting to determine if it was eligible.

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