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Drought worsens, residents urged to cut water use




Letcher County residents are being asked to stop washing cars and watering lawns until current drought conditions improve. And that might not be anytime soon.

According to forecasters at Accu Weather, there is a possiblity that Letcher County might get some rain from thunderstorms tomorrow (Thursday), but no other rainfall is in forecast through October 8.

Water shortage advisories are still in effect for the cities of Fleming- Neon and Jenkins.

“This means that raw water supplies coming into our reservoir are consistently below seasonal averages. The water manager will on a daily basis monitor the supply and demand upon the reservoir,” said Jenkins Mayor D. Charles Dixon.

Dixon said water in the Jenkins Lake is decreasing.

“The lake is going down two inches a week so we must have voluntary water conservation to limit water use and eliminate the waste of water,” said Dixon.

The Kentucky Division of Water has issued a water shortage advisory for all Letcher County residents who receive their water supply from the North Fork of the Kentucky River. The advisory affects all customers of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District.

The Water and Sewer District is asking customers to voluntarily conserve water consumption to reduce the chance of mandatory requirements being implemented.

Letcher County residents are also being asked to repair any known water leaks in their plumbing systems.

Activities to refrain from during the advisory include car washing; filling fountains, reflecting pools, and artificial waterfalls; watering of annual plants; watering sod or lawns; washing of sidewalks, driveways or other hard surface areas; washing of buildings or other structures; flushing of gutters; and non-necessary recreational usage.

“The grass doesn’t need to be green if you don’t have drinking water,” said Dixon.

Whitesburg Mayor James W. Craft doesn’t expect there will be any mandatory restrictions on ordi nary household use anytime soon.

“We’re still pulling enough water over the dam that we don’t have to restrict use at this time,” said Craft.

Craft said local car washes have voluntarily stopped their services. He said that unless the drought deepens, the city will not restrict commercial laundries.

Letcher County needs 12.16 inches of rainfall to end the drought, according to officials at the National Weather Service. Letcher County usually has had 42.72 inches of rainfall at this point of the year. As of 7 a.m. on September 20, Letcher County had received only 30.56 inches of rainfall.

Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said the current water shortage shows the need for backup sources.

“The water and sewer district got a call this weekend that we had nine houses out of water. That is one reason why (the water and sewer district has been) trying to get the Blackey and Whitesburg water connector on top of Sandlick Mountain,” said Ward.

The connector, which has been in the planning stages since 2006, will tie the Blackey Water Plant to the lines coming out of the Whitesburg Water Plant. Ward said a representative with Bell Engineering, which designed the project and submitted it to the Kentucky Divsion of Water and the state Department of Highways for approval, said the project will begin within the next two weeks.

Ward said a project to connect Letcher County to the water plant at Carr Creek Lake will be completed in the fall of 2008. He said preliminary work has been done to build a connector across Garner Mountain.

“All of these water systems would be looped together so if there is a problem at one we can get water somewhere else. All you would have to do is reverse the flow of the water,” Ward said.


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