Jessamine County

Lexington shuts down troubled private wastewater treatment plant

Lexington officials have shut down a problem-plagued private wastewater treatment plant on Athens-Boonesboro Road, a decade after the city was forced to assume control of it.

The city recently spent $2 million on a new pump station next to Blue Sky Rural Activity Center, allowing sewage to redirect to the West Hickman wastewater treatment plant in Jessamine County.

Blue Sky, which is near Interstate 75 in southeastern Fayette County, was shut down, and the transfer to West Hickman was completed Oct. 8.

The city assumed emergency management of the privately owned wastewater plan in 2003 at the request of the Kentucky Department for Emergency Protection after the plant had received repeated violation notices for a host of problems, including pollutant discharge into Baughman Fork Creek and its unnamed tributary.

The creek has been listed as impaired because of pollutants.

At the time of the takeover, the city had to correct the problems.

Charlie Martin, director of water quality for the city, said money from Blue Sky's more than 100 customers was used to make necessary updates and changes to the plant during the past 10 years. Sewage fees from Blue Sky customers also helped pay $2 million for the new pump station and other upgrades that allowed the city to redirect sewage to West Hickman.

Martin said Blue Sky was in bankruptcy when the city took it over, further delaying action.

The Blue Sky project is part of a 12-year, $600 million wastewater and storm water overhaul that stems from the city's settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce storm-sewer overflows. Martin said the city agreed to fix problems at Blue Sky as part of that agreement. By agreeing to take over Blue Sky, the city avoided a larger civil penalty from the EPA.