Somerset City Council votes to end controversial water treatment practice

Somerset City Council votes to end controversial water treatment practice
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 11:51 AM EDT
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SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - Tensions were high at a Somerset City Council meeting Monday night.

The council voted unanimously to end a controversial water treatment practice involving what is called “leachate.”

The concern at a packed city council meeting Monday was that dangerous chemicals through this process are getting into Lake Cumberland and eventually into tap water.

After a heated meeting, the city council voted to stop the process that has been going on for several years.

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck says the leachate, which is defined by the EPS as a substance formed when rainwater filters through landfill waste, is taken to a treatment plant diluted then discharged.

“This was the EPA’s mandate because this used to just go right into the groundwater. It would stay in our system. So they collect it, it goes into one of our treatment centers so it can get diluted, treated, then reintroduced in our water system. And then treated again before it becomes drinking water,” said Keck.

However, several people who spoke out at the meeting say they are concerned about forever chemicals that could be harmful.

“Leachate contains or could contain 2500 man-made chemicals. They are harmful and don’t deteriorate or degrade,” said Jay McShurley, a concerned citizen. “That is why they are called forever chemicals. They stay.”

There is some question on if what the city council adopted was simply a resolution or an actual action.

The City of Somerset is profiting from this process, receiving so many cents per amount of leachate that is treated.

It was stated at Monday night’s meeting that more than 50 million gallons of leachate have been treated in somerset since November 2019.

Mayor Keck says that because of the vote Monday night, the city will start the process to end the treatment of leachate in somerset.

“I always encourage citizens to show up and share their heart. But the way it was done was disappointing,” said Keck. “They made their voices heard. The council acted accordingly. So we are going to have to make some changes.”