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District seeks extra sources

Early design for Roxana water plant finished, but board waits

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District has expanded its search for grants to include Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA).

The move to secure KIA funding is in response to what is expected to be a shortfall in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding that was announced at the board’s August meeting. AML is a program of the Office of Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and was established by Title IV of the Surface Mine Control and Regulation Act of 1977. One of AML’s primary purposes is to replace water sources for areas where water supplies have been impacted by mining, but fee collection is set to expire in 2021. It has been extended by Congress seven times in the past.

KIA operates under the Office of the Governor and is administered by of the Department of Local Government. At the October meeting of the Board of Directors, Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering announced that KIA profiles have been developed for all Abandoned Mine Lands projects that currently await funding.

Bowman told the board that the profiles of projects here will be entered into the KIA Water Resources Information System’s database and that once they are, alternative sources of funding can be explored until AML is once again able to commit funds. Bowman also said that Performance Partnership Grants are available that can pay for the lab services necessary to begin the process of developing an alternative source of water supply. He said that McCoy & McCoy Labs of Pikeville has been approved to undertake the testing. McCoy & McCoy submitted the best price quote the district received from several sources. The Pikeville lab has also worked with the district on other projects.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the district’s operating budget. The budget is balanced, and calls for projected expenditures of $1,565,831 against projected revenues of $1,565,831.

A preliminary design is now complete for a wastewater treatment plant for the proposed federal prison at Roxana. The board is currently waiting for information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Record of Decision to locate the prison at Roxana was withdrawn as part of a federal lawsuit filed against the bureau by environmental groups. The lawsuit has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled if the bureau issues another Record of Decision.

Bowman told the board that residual chlorine issues in lines should be stabilized when cooler temperatures arrive, but said two chlorine booster stations should be added for summer months. The funding will be included with the next major project. One station will be set between Highway 15 and Blackey. No action was taken on projects that are ready but currently await funding.

Kim Padgett of Rural Community Assistance Partnership told the board that she has contacted Black Mountain Utilities and it believes it can provide water service to the Gordon/Highway 510 area. She will attend its next meeting and speak with its engineers. A request for qualifications for engineering services has been issued by the Cumberland River Water Commission to examine water sources for the commission and develop a sustainable water source. The Cumberland River Water Commission is made up of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, the City of Lynch and the City of Benham.

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