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Water bills correct, officials say

Customers of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District should be aware that they only receive one bill per household. District Board Chair Phillip “Pee Wee” Back told the board at its July meeting that a peculiarity in the billing software separates the basic usage of 2,000 gallons per month from water used over that amount so that it has caused some customers to complain that they are being billed for another household’s use. Back said that isn’t true and that the software cannot be modifi ed.

Superintendent Tim Reed said the billing arrangement is set up to show customers how much water that have used past the standard basic rate of 2,000 gallons, and to show what part of their bill is due to that amount of water.

“It’s not that anybody else is on it,” said Reed. “It just shows what is being used over the minimum billing amount.”

In other business, Jamie Noe of Bell Engineering reported that few changes have occurred during the month since the last meeting on the construction or funding front. Noe said that a 60-day extension has been granted to the contractors on the Knott County Interconnect to supply water to Letcher County from Carr Creek Lake and the new completion date is August 22. However, she added she doubts they will make that deadline either.

In response to a question from board member Bernard Watts, Noe said a $500-per-day late charge can be placed on the contract, but Lee Lowe, also of Bell Engineering, told the board that problems with the railroad have held up the work and it hasn’t actually cost the district anything.

Back added that the nature of doing the work so close to several highways has made it more time consuming to avoid endangering motorists by letting mud run into the roads. He said that until the Letcher County tank is constructed in Knott County, the delays won’t affect the project anyway.

In the superintendent’s report, Tim Reed told the board that 35 additional work orders have been completed, bringing the customer total to 1,805. He said that has been the result of adjusting meters that were no longer active but still listed. Reed also said a progress meeting was held on the Knott County Interconnect and if all goes well, water workers should be setting meters from Low Gap to Earl C. Drive in this week. Additional work is planned from Daniels Branch up Route 7 including Mack Drive, and those areas should be online soon.

Reed also reported that no progress has been made in getting any response from the City of Cumberland concerning its agreement to supply water to the Cumberland River areas in Letcher County. He said the problem is in waiting for a six-inch line to be installed from Cumberland to the Letcher County line. Board members Richard Carter and Bernard Watts said they will attend the next Cumberland City Council meeting to see if they can make sense of the current situation.

Reed said he has been working on getting quotes for a badly needed leak detector and that a six-inch line break in Craft’s Colly has been repaired. He added that Tim Blanton of Kentucky Rural Water had visited the plant and was setting up programs for flushing lines and detecting leaks as well as training personnel.

Benny Hamilton of the Kentucky River Area Development District reported that Abandoned Mine Lands will study the Premium area and may pick up part of the funding there. He also said additional funding has come from grants to the Red Star/Ulvah Waterline Improvement Project, bringing the total to $1.6 million.

Board Chair Back said in the future, all water bills should be sent out by the fifth of the month, and Bernard Watts had volunteered to help out in the office. Back also said the addresses on UZ and Dry Fork need to be separated from Camp Branch and Colson. Reed said this had been done as customers were added before final completion of those projects, but that the routes were going to be changed to correct them.

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