After several positive developments, Letcher County residents in the Cumberland River area are one step closer to having a reliable source of clean drinking water.
A preliminary engineering report is now complete and has been submitted to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District by Bell Engineering for approval. A Source Water Protection Application Program Grant Application was completed and submitted to Kentucky Department of Water on March 1, and representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a positive site visit on February 24.
The Army Corps office in Nashville has started a file on the project based on preliminary information, and representatives of U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s office met with Judge/Executive Jim Ward, Letcher County Water and Sewer District (LCWSD) representatives, and Bell Engineering regarding transfer of the property for the site. A meeting is scheduled in Frankfort with the Department of Local Government and the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to discuss funding, and on Monday evening, the Letcher County Fiscal Court approved a Community Development Block Grant application for up to $1 million to fund the project.
Bell Engineering is also working on the environmental checklist for the Red Star, Ulvah, Hallie and Turkey Creek Water Improvements Project and working with Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) on phasing the approximately $2 million project to suit available funding. Bell is attempting to schedule an on-site meeting with AML and the Kentucky Department of Highways to develop a consensus on the way drainage structures will be crossed. More than 50 percent of Phase II of the Bull Creek project is complete and a request has been forwarded to AML for additional work on the project.
LCWSD workers installed Bell Engineering’s pressure recorder on lines adjacent to the Scuttle Hole Gap area to develop a hydraulic model for supplying the Scuttle Hole Gap neighborhood. Other projects continue to await developments in funding and Bell Engineering is keeping communication lines open with the Bureau of Prisons and working on preliminary reports on lines and a water plant for the prison at Roxana.
District Manager Mark Lewis reported that costs for buying water from the Knott County Water District have gone up this month because of a change in the billing cycle. Lewis said the changes added billing for seven to 10 days to the cycle and that the bill for next month should be substantially lower.
Board member Diane Adams asked about air in water lines and Lewis said it was because a source line was switched. He said the problem should resolve itself soon, as lines are cleared through use.
Kim Padgett of the Rural Community Assistance Program reported that representatives of the LCWSD had attended an all-day meeting of the Kentucky Drinking Water Advisory Council By-product Symposium earlier that day. Padgett praised the district for its proactive approach in staying at the forefront of new regulations.