MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) — Martin County has the distinction of having some of the most expensive ‘bad’ water you’ll find anywhere and that’s in a county where more than a third of the people live in poverty.
Not being able to afford the often unusable water is detailed in a critical new report done by the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center and a Martin County Concerned Citizens (MCCC) group.
The Water Affordability Crisis in Martin County report was announced in Frankfort at the State Capitol Monday.
“I don’t think that people that have clean water throughout this state and other states actually realizes what a luxury it is,” says Mickey McCoy with MCCC.
To show how those in Martin County can’t afford the water, Nina McCoy with MCCC, says in July the water district sent out 300 notices of shutting for water for non-payment.
The new report shows water service rates have increased by a staggering 41.5% since January 2018 with another rate increase expected soon after a new management company was hired to take over the struggling water district.
“Then that is going to make it so hard for some families that they are going to have to do without,” says Nina.
The report says nearly half the people in the county can’t afford the water based on the Environmental Protection Agency standard.
How poor is martin county?
About 44% of the households have an income below $25,000 per year.
“This is not acceptable,” says Nina.
Some of the poorest people in the state have the highest water bills in Kentucky.
“It’s a damn shame,” says Mickey.
He says it should be a human right to have clean water.
These groups are demanding no more rate increases.
The report doesn’t just detail the problems, it offers potential solutions.
Among them: that grant money go toward the most immediate needs of the district – including fixing service and main water lines; asking for state money to improve the infrastructure and help low-income customers pay their bills; look at different rate structures; and consider customers’ income levels when setting public utility rates.
Below is the full report.