Whitesburg KY
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Will COVID relief funds help get water lines here?


Although considerable progress has been made in providing treated water for Letcher County residents, the county still has one of the least served populations in the state.

However, there is a large pot of money from President Joe Biden’s COVID relief fund that will focus on getting treated water into underserved areas.

At the June meeting of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering said the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority will administer $99 million in federal funds, with $49 million designated for underserved areas. Water District

Manager Mark Lewis said that Letcher County, with over 2,500 unserved homes, should get a significant amount of funding to extend water lines and develop water infrastructure.

One project that could benefit is the Cumberland River water treatment plant now in the planning stages.

Drawings and aerial photos are back from vendors and have been incorporated into a presentation that can be used to approach the property owner of the preferred site for the water plant. A final version should be completed by next week. The Kentucky River Area Development District is applying for funding through the Abandoned Mine Lands NEXUS program, which funds projects that are similar in nature and scope to designated AML projects. The project may also be eligible for funding through KIA for underserved populations. Bell Engineering will work with KRADD next week on a project profile.

Bell Engineering and district representatives also met with the Cumberland River Water Commission last Monday. They are now waiting for the City of Cumberland to finalize its plans and funding package. KRADD is in the process of submitting an AML Nexus application for water lines on the Cumberland end of the project. KRADD is also submitting a Community Development Block Grant application for Cumberland River.

KIA project profiles are also being prepared for projects in the Kingscreek and Red Star areas.

The Kentucky Division of Water has approved plans and specifications for water lines for the Roxana area and monthly meetings are being held with AML and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bowman said that the water line extensions have been funded, regardless of the eventual fate of a federal prison in the area. The lines in Roxana will be able to accommodate the necessary capacity in case the prison is ever built. Revised budgets and schedules are being prepared to be submitted to the appropriate agencies.

Lewis told the board that the contractor who drilled into the main water trunk line that runs along US 119, near the junction with Highway 3406, in the Bottom Fork area, has declined to pay for repairs and have said he wants to turn it in to his insurance company. The matter is now in litigation, with County Attorney Jamie Hatton representing the district. The line feeds water to homes below the break. Lewis said that water from the Knott County Water District is being used to feed lines running to the affected homes and water pressure is good.

A construction progress meeting for June was cancelled for the AML Deane Interconnect Project and the contractor has been notified that 30 days of the 90-day contract period to complete the work have expired. Bowman said damages will be assessed at the end of the 90-day period. The Knott County Water District has agreed to donate a master meter and a protective vault for the project. Both items had been purchased for another AML project in Knott County.

The district has received a letter of support from the Knott County Water District for the Carbon Glow Road water line project. The letter has been forwarded to the Kentucky Department of Water for review and approval.

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