By Kaitlyn Wilson
The McCreary County Water District held a public meeting on June 29, 2020 in order to discuss the human, environmental, and financial aspects of the upcoming MCWD Sanitary Sewer Collection System Expansion – Phase One project. Through this project, 305 customers in the Smithtown-Stearns area who are not currently connected to the McCreary County Water District’s sanitary sewer collection system will be connected, expanding the system from 1,140 users to 1,445. The $3.6 million project consists of approximately 66,500 feet of PVC sewer line extensions, 15 manholes, 275 grinder pump stations, and other related components, such as air release valves and flushing connections.
This endeavor will be funded through a low interest loan from the Kentucky Division of Water, called the Clean Water State Revolving Loan, which is funded in part by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) through a grant. The $3.2 million loan is on a 30-year term, with 0.50% interest. However, this loan does offer $450,000 of loan forgiveness. Additional funding has been obtained through the USDA in the form of a $400,000 loan for rural development that also has 0.50% interest. Combined, this covers the total project cost of $3,644,500.
Though in the past customers have witnessed an increase in rates in order to cover the loan for projects such as this one, this is not currently the case. During the Monday meeting, Water District Supervisor Stephen Whitaker said that rates will not increase. “The amount of loan forgiveness that we’re getting on this, plus the number of additional customers we’re going to get offsets the additional loan,” Whitaker said. “We plan to not have any rate increase associated with this project.” The current user rates are $24.19, based upon a usage of 2,000 gallons a month. Customers should not expect to see a rise in their monthly rate. In addition to not having a rate increase, customers included in the expansion can expect to see no cost of participation. Whitaker said that the McCreary County Water District will be setting the tanks free of charge to the customers.
Many of the users in this area either have failing septic systems or discharge directly into the environment. “This is a crucial area for our community, especially where the watershed area is with some of those failing septic systems that we have in that area. We want to make sure we take care of our watershed area,” said Whitaker. So, through this project, the McCreary County Water District sewer expansion will better spread the cost of service across more customers while also protecting the environment from failing septic tanks and straight pipes. “The district has completed an environmental information document, which has not indicated any significant effects on historical properties or the environment,” said Judy Hachey, the Community Development Specialist for the Lake Cumberland Area Development District. For more information, relevant documents are currently available for review at the McCreary County Water District’s drive through window, located at the McCreary County Water District, 456 N. Hwy. 27, Whitley City, Ky, during regular business hours. Citizens may also review these documents online through the district’s website, www.mccrearywater.com.