The Board of Directors of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District has accepted a recommendation from the Kentucky Public Service Commission to set water rates for the upcoming year and the near future. At the final meeting of 2017, Kim Padgett of the Rural Community Assistance Program reported that the board had settled on a rate increase that will set the cost of the first 2,000 gallons of water at $27.50, with additional use billed at $7.50 per 1,000 gallons. The rate will go into effect January 1, 2018. This represents a 25 percent increase. The PSC recommended a rate increase of 54.87 percent, which would have increased rates considerably, but the board settled on the 25 percent increase, which will allow the district to meet operating expenses and service its debts.
Padgett also reported that Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward has taken the necessary steps to form a water commission to allow Letcher County to work with water districts in Harlan County to establish a Tri-County Water District to build a water treatment plant on the Cumberland River in Letcher County. The plant will provide treated water to Letcher County citizens on the Cumberland River side of Pine Mountain, and to customers in Benham, Lynch and possibly Cumberland. She also said the board’s attorney has submitted paperwork to the PSC to allow the board to purchase a building to house its operations.
In other business, the board accepted a bid for $649,486.00 from Ronnie Mullins and Sons of Elkhorn City for pipeline construction in Phase II of the Red Star, Hallie & Turkey Creek Water Improvement Project. The contract has a duration of 120 days and the expected completion date is June 30, 2018. Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering said a preliminary construction meeting will be set early in January.
Bowman also said that a 531 Grant Application has been submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the Section 531 program. The 531 funds are available for projects that serve rural areas not likely to be addressed in the near future by other traditional funding sources.
Bowman also reported that plans and specifications are almost complete for the water line portion of the project to serve the federal prison at Roxana. When they are finished, the documents will be sent to the Kentucky Department of Water for review and approval. He added that the board is still waiting for final permission from the Bureau of Prisons to begin, and said that the Corps of Engineer has made some staff changes which have slowed the project as well.
Sampling is now complete for the Kentucky Department of Water Corrective Action Plan and Bell Engineering has met with its enforcement branch as well. It appears that sampling will be required every 30 days, but Bowman said Bell will request that it be allowed to conduct quarterly sampling instead. The CAP was put into place to address deficiencies found during DOW inspections that involved chlorine gathering in some areas where there wasn’t enough movement of water to flush it out. Steps have been taken to alleviate the flow problem.