Officials announce water district merger

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

After months of financial problems and water outages, the troubled Green Hills Water District in Harlan County is a step closer to merging with another district. Officials with both the Black Mountain Utilities and Green Hills agreed to temporarily join forces.

The people of Bledsoe have had their water come and go in the past few months, but a new agreement will likely keep it flowing in the future. Members of the Black Mountain Utilities District board voted to take over the Green Hills operations and form one water district.

“Later when the [Public Service Commission] meets with them, we will completely take it over, but as of right now we will be trying to get these people and keep them water until that happens,” said Donny Perkins, Chairman of BMUD.

“We will be board members for a year then after that the judge appoints new members,” said Ralph Turner, GHWD Board Chairman.

Though the district tried many different fixes, even help from the Kentucky National Guard could not keep water pumped to everyone.

“Those people in big laurel and 510 might not have water today because of Pineville not getting us enough pump time,” said Turner.

Turner said that they are normally given 10 hours of pump time but some mechanical problems at the Pineville Utilities Commission have not allowed them to pump as much as they should be able to. Between the National Guard and Pineville they have been able to pump around 75,000 gallons a day but Turner said the need is greater than that.

Perkins said he believed the merger would be good for customers because that meant they would be able to come and begin fixing what is broken.

“They are having a lot of leaks right now,” said Perkins.

Turner said the fix is not as simple as it seems. Turner said there has to be enough water running through the lines in order to identify where the leaks are happening so the people of BMUD can start making the repairs once there is enough water coming through the lines from Pineville Utilities Commission, PUC.

“They cannot give us instant relief in the next three four months, but they can give us some relief if they can go in and fix these water leaks,” said Turner, referring to BMUD.

The plan is to eventually build a new line across Pine Mountain, while continuing to pump some water through a contract with PUC. Local contractors will submit bids to build it.

“I think it will help us a lot, that will give us two water sources, if one goes down we will have a back up,” said Turner, who added it will take until late march to get the water line project started.

Turner said it will be another six months after that before it is finished and he said the project will likely cost more than $1,000,000. He said it would not be possible without funding allocated by Harlan County Judge Executive Joe Grieshop.

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