Whitesburg KY
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Jenkins finally able to replace water lines in place since 1912

The Jenkins City Council will begin the final step in a process that has taken nearly 20 years just after January 1, 2020, when it advertises for bids for the last of the water lines that may have been in place since 1912.

The council began the process of replacing all the city’s water lines around 2000 during the administration of the late Mayor Robert “Pud” Shubert. After a long period of losing most of the treated water the city produced, it conducted a study that showed many of the city’s lines were simply running water into the ground and most lines were made from outdated materials. The council then voted to contract with Nesbitt Engineering of Lexington and Hazard to begin a project to completely replace the city’s water lines.

Most of the city’s lines were replaced by 2017, but there were some areas where only a few households were served by the existing lines and the cost ratio was too great to find funding to extend new ones. The city had to wait until additional funding became available before it could finalize the replacement project. At the November meeting of the Jenkins City Council, Mayor Todd Depriest said it looks like everything will be in place after January 1, 2020 to go ahead and bid the final work.

When the majority of the old lines had been replaced, the city experienced a dramatic downturn in the loss of treated water, going from as much as 80 percent a month sometimes to between ten and 20 percent. Twenty percent is generally considered to be an acceptable amount of water loss for rural water departments by Kentucky Rural Water. However, as water pressure increased due to the new lines staying intact, losses have occasionally increased as older lines have blown out due to the increased pressure. At an earlier meeting, Depriest said there are still some lines that are “hot” or carry water that run to homes that are no longer there, and the water usually just runs into the ground. Once the new lines are installed, all old lines will be turned off and only newly installed lines will carry treated water.

Depriest said this will be the final phase of the water line project that included a number of upgrades in other parts of the system and a refurbishment of the city water plant and filtration system. The next step in upgrading the city’s water system will be to address the supply. Elkhorn Lake furnishes the city’s water most of the time, and the lake has a number of issues that will need to be addressed.

The water lilies that cover around half the lake in spring and summer months may be picturesque, but they also create toxins when they decompose that have to be removed from the water during the treatment process. Beginning in the late 1960s, strip mining on steep hillsides in the watershed area of the lake caused a good deal of siltation and the lake badly needs to be dredged. Dredging would make the lake floor deep enough so the water lilies would be reduced to a few around the edges and eliminate most of the problem. Dredging will also increase the capacity of the lake. The dam also needs attention to ensure its stability.

In a related matter, the sidewalk extension project should receive final approval and grant funding around the first of the year too. The sidewalk extension will extend the sidewalk from just across from the Tommy Brush Football Field to the highway across from Jenkins Middle High School. Depriest told the council he has been assured that the funding is near the top of the list in state projects. The sidewalk project was approved for funding over five years ago but has been held up over questions about the nature of the city’s match to meet grant funds. Depriest said the city no longer has to match the funds and the entire amount will be funded by federal highways funds administered through the state.

The council opened bids on several items it had placed for bids as surplus. The items were a Ford police cruiser, a 2000 Dodge pickup, a 2002 Chevy pickup, a 2006 Dodge pickup, a Tennison Sweeper, and a Ford Tractor Mower. Mike Burton bid $515 for the Ford Tractor Mower and Joseph Patrick bid $711. The council voted to award the bid to Patrick. Burton bid $108 on the Tennison Sweeper and $176 for the Ford Cruiser and was awarded the bid for both. The city didn’t receive any bids on the two Dodge pickups or the Chevrolet and Depriest said they will be sold as scrap.

The council went into executive session for about twenty minutes to discuss a personnel matter. The members emerged and Mayor Depriest said that had taken no action had been taken.

The city produced 15,121,000 gallons of treated water in October and sold 7,228,435 gallons, for a difference of 7,892,565, for a potential loss of 52 percent. Of that amount, some was lost due to line breaks, some was used at the wastewater treatment plant, some was used for the water treatment plant, and 500,000 gallons were used for hydrant flushing. The remainder of lost water that was accounted for was used by the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department, in a net computer adjustment, and some classified as “other.” That left an unaccounted loss of 3,390,565 gallons, or 22 percent.

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