Hazard, Knott, Perry, Letcher, Pike projects get $6 million in funding

HAZARD, Ky. (WTVQ) –  A total of almost $6 million in federal funds will improve clean water and wastewater systems in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded federal funding for three infrastructure projects, including $1,075,000 for the City of Hazard’s Buckhorn Dam Tailwater Channel Raw Water Intake Structure; $467,500 for the Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority’s Highway 80 Sewer Collection Project – Phase III, impacting Knott and Perry Counties; and $457,500 for Elkhorn City’s Stillhouse Water Storage Tank Project in Pike County.

The federal funds come from the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Section 531 program that U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers established in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1996, setting aside funding exclusively for improvements to publicly owned wastewater treatment and clean water systems in Southern and Eastern Kentucky through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Including this announcement, $42 million have been invested through this program to improve water and wastewater systems across Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

“We are doing a lot of things right in Eastern Kentucky, by comprehensively investing in every aspect of our communities. We can’t invest in better healthcare, agriculture and job creation activities, without also investing in clean water and reliable wastewater projects – they work in tandem with one another. These project awards will go a long way to shore up those infrastructure needs in Perry, Knott and Pike counties,” said Rogers. “This is the 25th anniversary of the program, and I was pleased to raise the cap to $100 million, protecting this program for years to come. I appreciate Senator McConnell’s support of this program each year and working together for the benefit of the people of Eastern Kentucky.”

Last year, Rogers increased the authorization level for the Section 531 program by $60 million in the 2020 WRDA legislation, capping the exclusive fund to Southern and Eastern Kentucky at $100 million.

The program was also expanded to include four more counties, including Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Lincoln.

“With today’s announcement, Eastern Kentucky residents will receive critical funding for important water infrastructure improvements, helping to promote much-needed economic development in their region,” said U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, an environmentally focused non-profit organization launched by Rogers in 1997, works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure water and wastewater needs are met in local schools and communities.

“PRIDE is often recognized for our massive volunteer spring cleanup campaigns across the region, but we have been proud partners for a number of Section 531 projects to make sure our streams stay clean by eliminating straight pipes and expanding access to sanitary wastewater resources and clean drinking water,” said Tammie Nazario, President/CEO of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE.

The City of Hazard was awarded more than $1 million to construct a new raw water intake structure in the tailwater channel of Buckhorn Dam, which will supply water to a proposed new water treatment plant that will provide reliable water service to residents and local businesses.

“This is the first of many steps needed to get clean drinking water where its needed the most. Building a new water intake in Buckhorn will pave the way for a new water treatment plant that will not only be able to serve the Buckhorn and Chavies communities, but also the Coalfields Regional Industrial Park and neighboring counties,” said Hazard Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini.

The Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority will use federal funding to extend wastewater removal service to 159 more households in several subdivisions along the Highway 80 corridor in Perry and Knott counties.

“I want to extend my thanks to the Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority board, Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) staff, Knott County Judge Executive Jeff Dobson and Perry County Judge Executive Scott Alexander for working together to provide these services to the people of Knott and Perry County. Also, a special thanks to Congressman Hal Rogers and his staff for their continued support,” said Don Gibson, Board Chairman of the Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority.

In Pike County, the funding will help build a new 200,000 gallon water storage tank in Elkhorn City to avoid future water outages and water pressure problems.

“The majority of Elkhorn City’s 569 water customers are served by a single water tank located on Stillhouse Avenue. Due to the aged condition of the tank, our customers will be better served by replacing the tank instead of doing a major rehabilitation of the existing tank,” said David Sanders, City Engineer for Elkhorn City. “Additionally, the city customers in higher elevations of the City occasionally have water pressure problems that will be alleviated by the placement of the new tank. The new tank will provide consistent water service to our community for many years in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Appalachian Regional Commission announced more than $3.8 million to support five water and sewer infrastructure projects. The funding will provide $1.8 million for Letcher County, nearly $1.2 million for Knott County, and more than $830,000 for Pike County.

These federal funds come from an ARC program to devote resources to distressed communities throughout Central Appalachia. Communities across Kentucky have so far received $60 million from this fund.

“This funding is greatly needed for Knott County and the region. This will ensure that the citizens of Knott County and surrounding counties will be provided quality drinking water. I truly appreciate Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers for their tireless efforts to ensure Knott County received this vitally important funding,” said Kentucky state Rep. John Blanton, who represents District 92.

“We are beyond grateful for the support from Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers and for their help securing funding to get clean, quality water to the people of Knott County,” said Knott County Judge-Executive Jeff Dobson.

“Myself, along with city employees and citizens of Whitesburg wish to convey our magnanimous appreciation to Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers for supporting an $800,000.00 ARC grant for the City of Whitesburg’s lift station. This improvement is an extraordinary help to our town by helping us save substantial amounts of money in wastewater expenses. My husband, the late Mayor James Wiley Craft, would have been thrilled to know that his request for assistance was approved. Thank you for your continued support to the City of Whitesburg and also, for all of your efforts to help keep Eastern Kentucky thriving,” said Whitesburg Mayor Tiffany Craft. 

“On behalf of the citizens of Pike County, I want to thank Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and our own Congressman Hal Rogers for their efforts on behalf of some of our county’s most needy residents. Eastern Kentucky has seen a lot of economic distress in the last several years with the downturn of the coal industry. It has made it difficult, if not impossible, for many local governments to meet all of the infrastructure needs of their residents. Clean drinking water is a necessity of life. The funds obtained through the efforts of these leaders will allow local leaders to make the needed investments to ensure that the people in Pike County’s rural areas can live healthy and safe lives in the homes that they love,” said Kentucky state Sen. Phillip Wheeler, who represents District 31.

The Kentucky communities received ARC funding for the following projects:

  • The Knott County Water and Sewer District will receive $1,197,064 to extend water services and update water treatment equipment at the Carr Creek Lake Water Treatment Plant.
  • The City of Fleming-Neon will receive $1,000,000 for waterline improvements throughout the city’s water distribution system.
  • The City of Whitesburg will receive $800,000 to rehabilitate its sewer lift stations and provide improved sewer services throughout Letcher County.
  • The Mountain Water District in Pike County will receive $670,597 to construct new waterlines servicing the Millard Bottom and Rocky Road areas, addressing inefficiencies and shortages.
  • The Maynard Fork Water Supply in Pike County will receive $160,662 to establish new water services to households located in a remote area on Maynard Branch.
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