Letcher County water rates will increase by about 78 cents for the first 2,000 gallons of water used, if the state Public Service Commission agrees.
The increase comes after the PSC allowed the Knott County Water District to increase the rates it charges its commercial customers. That includes Letcher County, which purchases most of its treated water from the Knott County District.
Although the Letcher County rate isn’t final, the PSC authorized Knott County to increase the rate it charges Letcher County from $3 for the first 1,000 gallons to $3.27. The cost for each additional 1,000 gallons is expected to be $7.89. It is likely that Letcher County will match the Knott County rate in order to stay even.
A February 20 appendix to a resolution by the Board of Commissioners to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, sets the rate here at a $28.28 minimum for the first 2,000 gallons of water used, up from $27.50. All over 2,000 gallons will be $7.89 per 1,000 gallons. The commission attorney will submit the rate proposal to the PSC.
In other business at the commission board meeting last week, Water District Manager Mark Lewis reported that a series of line breaks, resulting from a variety of cold weather and other factors, caused county water workers to work almost 40 hours of overtime in locating and repairing leaks in January. Lewis said that Kentucky Rural Water will assist in finding and repairing further leaks. Kentucky Rural Water is a membership organization located in Bowling Green that works with rural water providers to provide nonregulatory training, technical assistance programs, and advocacy. According to the Kentucky Rural Water Association, rural water providers account for about 95 percent of the drinking water and wastewater service to customers in Kentucky.
Lewis said one 12-inch line broke along an entire 20-foot section at Isom, and an eight-inch 90-degree valve burst at a pump station. He added that water losses from leaks are not charged to customers, although they do increase the amount the district pays Knott County each month. He said leaks caused problems with water tanks in Pine Creek because as soon as one tank would fill, the water would leak out from the broken line until it was repaired.
In a related matter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Performance Partnership Grant (PPG) has been approved for Letcher County to perform flow monitoring and sampling at the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Linefork for an alternative source of water to serve county needs. Flood plain concerns have been evaluated and discussed with the district, and no problems are anticipated with elevation.
Specifications and contract documents are being finalized, and plans for water lines in the Roxana area will be finished within two weeks. The goal is to submit plans to the Kentucky Department of Water along with CSX rail crossing permits and highway encroachment permits to all applicable parties in March to facilitate construction in early summer.
The Rural Community Assistance Partnership is working on a tentative agreement with the Black Mountain Utilities District to allow for the purchase of water for the Gordon/ Highway 510 area. Alternate funding, other than funding from Abandoned Mine Lands, is being pursued. Project profiles will be updated and submitted to the Kentucky River Area Development District.
Bell Engineering and the district are developing plans for system improvements to submit to the USDA Rural Development Agency to address the residual chlorine issue in problem line segments. The Kentucky Department of Water is preparing an agreed order for the issue. An updated flushing plan, a sampling plan, and a corrective action plan will have to be submitted to KDOW for review and approval. The DOW and RCAP have agreed to assist in preparing the plans.
Millstone resident Dean Mathis said there is a problem with a manhole in Mc- Coy Lane. Mathis said paving around the manhole has created a “sunken” area that makes it difficult to drive over. Lewis said gravel can be put over it for a temporary fix, but there are only five customers in Millstone who pay a sewer bill, and the cost for a new manhole would be exorbitant. Lewis added that septic tanks in Millstone will have to be pumped out at a considerable cost as well.