Whitesburg KY
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County water system hit with large leaks


The Board of Directors of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District was warned that it could expect higher costs in July for repairs as well as from water leaks that resulted from line breaks.

At the board’s June meeting, District Manager Mark Lewis said that three pressure-reducing valves had malfunctioned and several large lines had split or burst. Lewis said water losses resulted from each one and the cost of replacing the lines and repairing the valves will all show on the Manager’s Report at the July meeting.

Three pressure-reducing valves, one at Kentucky Highway 3401 ( UZ- Dry Fork), one on Garner Mountain, and one on KY 1410 malfunctioned, but were able to be serviced in the field and did not have to be replaced. A 12-inch line split for 20 feet along KY 1410, and an eight-inch line burst at Premium. The eight-inch line drained the water tank at Smoot Creek. Two smaller lines also burst, with a three-inch line on Highway 7 that drained the tank at Blackey and another two-inch poly line at Payne Gap that burst at a valve.

Lewis reported that district staff spent 14 days isolating valves and checking flow throughout the system. A leak was detected in a forested portion of Craft’s Colly that had caused a pressure-reducing valve to fail. Lewis estimated that the valve will cost several thousand dollars to replace. He said readings showed that leak alone was averaging $16,000 in monthly loss to the district. Another water leak in the Premium area was the result of water thieves and when it was found, it was losing about 58 gallons per minute. That leak was at an empty house where thieves were able to access the lines and they had directed to runoff into a culvert. Lewis said now that the repairs have been made, the board should see a dramatic drop in monthly water purchases, if current usage is maintained. However, due to the time frame of the recent problems, the costs will be reflected on the July report.

The board named current board member Diane Adams as treasurer. Board member Billy Stamper had been serving as treasurer, but work requirements have made it difficult for him to attend all the meetings.

Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering said that as the system ages, equipment failures and line breaks can be expected. Some of the equipment has been in service for more than ten years and lines especially are prone to breakage, depending on how they were installed. Diane Adams said she believes the board should soon see positive results from the work Lewis and his crew have done.

In the Engineering Report, Bowman said that information from pressure reading meters that were in district lines near the Kentucky 15 Interconnect for several months has been given to the district. He added that although the public announcement concerning the planned prison at Roxana had been negative, Bell Engineering will proceed as planned in designing the water and sewer system until it is instructed otherwise. Neither system has actually broken ground and both are still in the design phase. Bowman and the board expressed the hope that if the prison project is scrapped, some of the funding will still go to the district.

The district is considering a project that will replace problem lines in the northern portion of the distribution system. It is also considering a project to focus on installing zone meters throughout the system that will detect leaks more readily, and establishing an advanced infrastructure for metering lines. The district will need to develop mapping for the projects and give Opinions of Probable Cost to funders. The project will be submitted to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority through the Kentucky River Area Development District for inclusion with the KIA Water Resource Information System.

An application for Abandoned Mine Lands NEXUS funding was submitted to AML on June 19. The NEXUS Funding refers to projects that are eligible under the AML NEXUS if they demonstrate economic and community development criteria as a connected group of ideas. No action was necessary following the submission of the application. Bowman also said that Phase III of the Red Star/ Turkey Creek Water Project could be moved to the top of the AML funding list if the prison money is released.

A draft letter concerning water lines for Carbon Glow Road area was prepared and forwarded to Howard Engineering. The letter outlined the basic scope of services, estimated time of completion, and costs of providing water to that part of Carbon Glow that was deprived of water due to mining.

Bowman also praised Mark Lewis and district staffers for their efforts in reducing water losses. He said Bell Engineering is working with the district to determine issues concerning pump run time at the Pine Creek Station. Some problems including obstructions on the intake side and leaking valves have been resolved.

Bell Engineering has also provided the Kentucky River Area Development District with probable costs and mapping of Phase IV of the Cumberland River Project. KRADD indicated it will submit a regional AML application that will include the Cumberland River Project. There has been no change of status in projects at Kingscreek, Millstone, and Highway 510 at Gordon.

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