By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Rattlesnake Ridge Water District’s recent improvements include water line upgrades and new taps and meters for a number of the district’s customers – all paid for with grants and funds made available to the district by Governor Andy Beshear. It isn’t just Carter County benefiting from those improvements, though. Residents up Blaine’s Trace, in Bruin, are also going to enjoy the ability to tie into the water service for the first time after they run new pipes into the area.
Elliott County Judge Executive Myron Lewis said he’s excited for the opportunity this brings to the residents of the community, many of whom still rely on wells or filling cisterns for their water supply.
“I’ve been trying to get water into that holler since I was campaigning in 2017.” Lewis explained. “When I came into office one of the first things I did was say, ‘Hey, we need water in there’ The water goes so far, then stops. But you’ve got several homes up into the holler that still have well water, and it was time to make that change.”
He said they were already making progress on that before the grants made available to the district, but then the COVID pandemic not only stalled construction, but made it harder to obtain materials while the prices for those materials that could be sourced skyrocketed.
“We were making headway in doing that. Rattlesnake Ridge was being a great partner to work with. Then COVID hits and everything goes into an idle. Government goes into an idle. Funds go into an idle. They’re just not handing that stuff out. Then post-COVID, because of COVID, material, equipment, parts, labor, everything becomes harder to locate.”
“So, when we come out of COVID, if you want to call it that, then it’s supply and demand,” he continued. “These companies that were idle, or these ships that were left floating out in the ocean… we need parts. We need parts for trucks. We need things for equipment back here. And we’re not alone. This is everywhere in the United States. Then, prices skyrocket, so what seemed like something you could do for $180,000 at one time, all of a sudden it becomes a half million dollar project.”
Because of that, he said, they had to start looking at more funds, which meant more grants, which meant more time. He said they were looking at potentially adding years onto the project life cycle. That is until Governor Beshear cut through that red tape and sped up the timeline with his awards to Rattlesnake Ridge.
“What we saw this last week, with this contract, almost $4.2 million was finally (awarded),” through grants the state made available.
“I was excited because Blaine’s Trace will finally have the ability, once this is done, to have water up toward the head of the holler,” Lewis said.
It also opens up other land in that area to future potential development as well, he said. So if others decide to build homes up that holler or over the hill, they only need to tie into the lines for a water supply.
While some folks may choose to stay on their wells, the option for those without good wells, or the ability to drill a new one, will make a huge difference in their lives.
He related the story of one resident in the Isonville community who had drilled a second well and, after less than a year, all she could get from her tap was mud. She couldn’t afford to drill yet another well, but they were also having a hard time getting water to her. While they eventually got her issue resolved, with improvements like the Rattlesnake Ridge extension, he said, the county will have even fewer of those issues to work through.
The folks on Blaine’s Trace should see their new water lines installed “within two months” he said, a prospect that he finds “very exciting.”
He said it’s something those with ready access to municipal water supplies often take for granted, but it isn’t something he, as a judge, or the folks who live with water insecurity take lightly.
“I don’t think we recognize how important having water on tap really is,” he said. “Because there are those who don’t.”
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