The Harlan Fiscal Court found themselves in a discussion involving problems with the Cawood Water District during a meeting on Tuesday.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley asked if there was anybody in attendance wishing to address the court. Tim Rice, a resident of Tway, spoke up.
“I live in Tway, I’m on Cawood water,” Rice said. “We’re out of water. In the last two months, we’ve probably been out eight times at least. There have been periods where it has been for two days straight. This is more frustrating than you can imagine.”
Rice mentioned there is an interconnect that allows water from another district to be used for the area of Catrons Creek.
“They’re never without water,” Rice said. “We’re always without water. It’s so frustrating.”
Mosley said he was familiar with the situation.
“First, I want to document our involvement with the water districts so everyone understands,” Mosley said. “We appoint the board members that serve on the water district boards. We assist the water districts in trying to obtain funding to do water line extension projects and water rehab projects…Many times in the past, a lot of those projects have been funded via coal severance money. There’s also some loan/grant money out there that water districts qualify for through the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority that is their responsibility to apply for.”
Mosley said he attended the Cawood Water Board meeting on Sept. 13.
“Cawood Water District has been having significant issues lately with water supply in your community,” Mosley said. “It’s been a combination of a few different things. They have a filtering project that is going on right now to address the amount of water at the intake. They feel like that’s going to help substantially. Now, from a leak standpoint, that’s not going to help.”
Mosley said the pictures he saw of the most recent line breaks were “alarming.”
“Some of those water lines are 25 feet below the ground,” Mosley explained. “What I proposed to the engineer was…to try to design something from Lenarue to Grays Knob that would bypass the deepest line and come up with a cost on what it would take to replace that line.”
Mosley said by the time leaks could be identified and the line dug up, such a large amount of water had already been lost a long period of time is required to fill the tanks back up.
“The engineer stated at the meeting he was going to do some studying to figure out what it would cost and what the feasibility would be,” Mosley said. “I feel if they get this filtering thing resolved and they can get a design and a cost estimate on that line replacement, then that’s a start. But it’s going to obviously take time.”
Mosley said it was a safety risk for people to work on lines 25 feet underground.
“That’s why I told the engineer I wish they would look at a cost estimate on bypassing that line,” Mosley said. “I feel like that’s what he is going to do, based on that meeting. I don’t know how long that will take, but I will follow up with him to see where he’s at on that. The board directed him to look at that as well.”
Mosley advised Rice to take further action.
“You really need to document your concern with the chairman of the (Cawood Water) board,” Mosley said.
Mosley added a complaint has been filed concerning the issue.
“A complaint has been filed with the Public Service Commission related to Cawood Water District,” Mosley said. “We don’t have any governing authority over the water districts just by appointing the board members…The Public Service Commission oversees the water districts on a day to day basis and investigates complaints. That might be an option if you feel like there’s not a process moving forward.”
Mosley also stated the court is willing to help where they can.
“We’re willing to aid them in their quest to identify funding, but they’ve got to know how much funding they’re going after before KIA can open a project and try to develop a scope,” Mosley said. “At the end of the day, we’re willing to help them try to find funds to fix the issue, but they have to initiate the project from a board level, and after they initiate it, their engineer has to do a cost analysis and determine what it’s going to take to do it.”
Magistrate Bill Moore mentioned he has family living in the Cawood Water District dealing with the same water issues. Mosley added many people are frustrated with the water situation.
“I would encourage you, and others, to go to the board meeting — generally they are the second Tuesday (of the month) at 6:30 p.m.,” Mosley said. “I was there last week. We’re willing to help, but we are limited in what we are able to do from the standpoint of forcing their hand. The PSC (Public Service Commission) does have more governing authority.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.