Op-Ed

Water plant solves area's supply woes

At issue | April 21 Herald-Leader editorial: "Bills coming due as utility expands; Water monoply overbuilds to profit."

Kentucky American Water initiated an historic project in June 2008, beginning construction of a new 20 million-gallon-per-day (MGD) water treatment plant at Pool 3 of the Kentucky River, a 3 million-gallon storage tank and pumping station and 30.5 miles of 42-inch transmission main. This critical project is the solution to Central Kentucky's water deficit after nearly 20 years of review of various alternatives.

The Public Service Commission reviewed the proposed facilities for over a year, and found they were economically feasible and necessary to provide adequate service. The PSC investigated Kentucky American's review of potential solutions and granted approval to construct the facilities. Other potential alternatives were either inadequate or more expensive than the approved project. The proceedings required rigorous analysis of costs and provided opportunities for public review and participation.

Construction is currently on budget and on schedule for completion in 2010. As the 2007 drought demonstrated, this project is critical to meeting Central Kentucky's water needs. This project also provides supplies to meet future water needs through 2030. The current economic situation and its slight impact on immediate water use do not eliminate the current or future need for the project. The company has acquired 91 percent of the property easements required for the pipeline construction.

Despite challenging conditions associated with winter construction, Kentucky American and its contractors are committed to regulatory compliance. Where the road has been impacted, new pavement will be applied once most heavy equipment use of the roads is completed. Soil erosion control measures have been established, maintained, and adjusted as necessary. Kentucky American and the contractor have made adjustments to maintain compliance with transportation and environmental permits, minimizing the impact to area residents. Sensitive to local residents' concerns, the Transportation Cabinet located an inspector at the site to check progress and monitor compliance.

The project will do more than just provide Central Kentucky with a reliable water supply. It will contribute more than $1.1 million in property taxes annually in Fayette, Franklin, Scott and Owen counties. Kentucky American worked with the Franklin County Fire Department to place hydrants along the pipeline to maximize fire protection capabilities.

Kentucky American worked since 1999 with the Bluegrass Water Supply Commission to develop a regional project that utilized the Kentucky River and met the needs of all of Central Kentucky. Kentucky American will continue its commitment to a regional partnership in the facilities for the future. The project is estimated to cost $162 million. That will be an increase on the average residential water bill between $8 and $10 monthly. On a daily basis, this translates into 33 cents per day for a new 20 MGD plant.

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