Oct. 22 launched a new era for Central Kentucky.
Kentucky American Water dedicated the region's new water treatment plant, the Kentucky River Station II at Hardin's Landing on the Owen-Franklin county border, as well as a new booster pumping station and 30.5-mile water transmission main.
These new facilities represent the solution to Central Kentucky's water deficit after nearly 20 years of discussion and reviewing various alternatives.
Our customers started benefiting from these new facilities before the start of the World Equestrian Games in September, as the region entered the grips of a late summer drought.
With this water supply solution in place, our region's economic vitality is safeguarded as businesses will no longer have to worry if water use will be restricted.
Concurrent with the launch of these facilities, we have continued our efforts to inform consumers of the importance of conserving water, our most precious natural resource.
We continue to enhance our program to manage water lost through aging pipes — a challenge for all water utilities — and have engaged in new partnerships to raise awareness of protecting our region's waterways.
But these new operations do more than just provide Central Kentucky with a quality, reliable water supply for years to come. They also contribute more than $1.1 million in additional property taxes annually in Fayette, Franklin, Scott and Owen counties.
Additionally, Kentucky American worked with the Franklin County fire department to place flushing fire hydrants in strategic locations along the pipeline route to maximize fire protection capabilities for those rural areas.
The new water treatment plant can be expanded to meet the needs of other Central Kentucky communities outside Kentucky American Water's service area, too.
Although currently no other regional utilities are participating in this manner, Kentucky American is committed to continued communication with them in the hope that a regional partnership might materialize.
In planning this significant project, we remained committed to containing costs as much as possible for the benefit of our customers.
One way we were able to do just that was by working with the Owen County Fiscal Court to acquire $91 million in tax-exempt bonds to help lower the cost of financing for a portion of the project.
This will result in interest savings of nearly $30 million over the next 30 years. The project's final cost was $163.9 million, and this investment was the major component of the rate increase requested by Kentucky American earlier this year.
On a daily basis, that cost translates into 33 cents per day for the average residential customer for a new treatment plant and related facilities. On a long-term basis, its means ample water supply for our region.
Kentucky American employees are proud to be a part of Central Kentucky and provide exceptional water service to our neighbors, friends and families. This project has been part of an unprecedented level of cooperation among public agencies, consumers and water service providers, and we appreciate the efforts that so many have made to help make this new day for our region a reality.
The journey has not always been easy, but nothing this complex ever is. As for our team, we are simply pleased and humbled to have been a part of an historic event for our company and this region, building on the efforts our predecessors made some 125 years ago when Lexington's water company was founded.
We look forward to continuing our efforts to provide this region with a sustainable supply of high quality water for decades to come, and know that with this ample water supply, it truly is a new day for Central Kentucky.
Linda Bridwell is director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance for Kentucky American Water.