The state Energy and Environment Cabinet announced this week that the City of Jenkins is the home of one of 61 drinking water treatment plants in Kentucky that consistently produced drinking water in 2013 that exceeded state and federal water quality standards.
“ Wow!” Jenkins Mayor G. C. Kincer exclaimed after hearing the news Tuesday afternoon. “That is absolutely wonderful.”
The 61 systems are among 149 public and private water treatment plants in the state that participated in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Area- Wide Optimization Program. The program challenges plants to reduce turbidity levels below those required by state and federal regulations.
Turbidity, or cloudiness, of water can be caused by sand and dirt, as well as bacteria and viruses. Particle removal is critical for producing water that is free of dirt and microbes that can cause waterborne diseases.
Kincer said the City of Jenkins pays close attention to issues of water quality, and is helped by its geographical location at the base of Pine Mountain, which is a source for some of the cleanest water in Kentucky.
Kincer said the city’s water and sewer departments also have good employees that are well managed.
“I would give that credit to David Richardson, who is the superintendent of all the people who work with water here from the time the water goes into the plant all the way until it leaves in the sewer.”
Kincer points out the city’s good water quality was instrumental in the DaVita corporation’s decision to move its kidney dialysis center from the Whitesburg hospital to the Gateway Industrial Park in Jenkins.
“That’s how we got that dialysis center,” he said.
“ Together, these 61 plants serve more than 2.3 million Kentuckians,” Julie Roney, coordinator of the Division of Water’s Drinking Water Program, said in a news release. “Plant staff deserve our recognition and appreciation for optimizing their operations and management above and beyond the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
Two of the water systems received an AWOP Champion Award. This award takes into account the number of years the system has been optimized and maintained overall compliance as well as the dedication of the operating staff.
Kentucky American Water’s Richmond Road Station won in the category for large water plant designed to produce more than 50,000 gallons of water per day. The Williamsburg Water Department won the Champion Award for small water plant, designed to produce less than 50,000 gallon of water per day. This was Williamsburg’s third Champion Award.
Jenkins and the Benham Water Plant in neighboring Harlan County are the only coalfield water plants that met the microbial goals 95 percent of the time in 2013.