Whitesburg KY
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy


Water and sewer district responds to criticism

To the Editor:

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District (District) was formed in 1998 for the purpose of providing potable water and sanitary sewer service to residents located outside incorporated cities where service was not currently being provided. The District currently provides water to 1150 households and businesses and intends to extend service throughout Letcher County in the coming years.

Based upon a recent letter to the editor regarding provision of water to families along Camp Branch, Stinking Branch, and Indian Creek, the District would like to provide some clarification and additional information, specifically as it relates to the $1.5 million Coal Trust Agreement (Agreement).

Regarding the timeline for the project, the District was approached some four to five years ago about the possibility of providing water to the above mentioned areas using $1.5 million from an Agreement reached between 29 plaintiffs and a local mining company. It was immediately apparent that because of the distance the area was from a supplier of water, the $1.5 million would only cover a fraction of the cost required for such a project. The District agreed to seek the additional funding necessary (almost $5 million) for the project and spent nearly three years diligently putting together a funding package. However, according to the Agreement the $1.5 million could not be released until after the residents had potable water. This forced the District to delay doing many of the side roads until funds were released from the agreement. Those funds have not been released and approximately 280 people along those side roads are still awaiting water service.

In the Spring of 2006 construction began on Phase I of the project, with construction of the phase that would ultimately serve the areas in question beginning in the winter of 2006/07. The project was deemed substantially complete on September 25, 2007 when bacteriological testing was successfully completed, meeting state standards. On October 3, 2007 a letter was mailed to members of the Agreement notifying them of the availability of service. Due to the far distance the water lines were from the treatment plant, chlorine levels were initially below state requirements so a boil water advisory was in effect. On October 10, 2007 another letter was mailed informing them that a chlorinator had been installed, chlorination levels now met state standards, and the boil water advisory had been lifted. During the course of this time more than 150 customers in the area began receiving drinking water, including 16 of the 29 plaintiffs. The remaining 13 had equal access to service. All these events predate the November 2, 2007 deadline specified by the Coal Trust Agreement, so it is the belief of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District that the requirements of that Agreement have been met.

Another area the District wishes to address are the “contaminants” mentioned in the previous letter to the editor. I assume this refers to disinfection byproducts that are present to some degree in the majority of water systems that treat surface water. For an explanation regarding this you can go to the following website. http:// www.water.ky.gov/ homepage_repository/ june03.htm or contact our office for a printed copy of this press release from the Kentucky Division of Water. The District also has on file and available for public inspection all water samples results, which are taken according to state standards and approved by the same.

Finally, there are concerns regarding the Water User Agreements. These agreements are standard practice within the industry and in fact are required by at least one funding agency. They have been deemed by the court to be a reasonable requirement and every household currently receiving water from the Letcher County Water and Sewer District has signed one.

One of the District’s goals is simple; to improve the quality of life for residents of Letcher County by providing a safe source of drinking water. We are now doing that for more than 1100 households and have plans to serve as many residents of Letcher County as possible in the coming years.

SETH LONG Chairman Letcher County Water and Sewer District

Leave a Reply