“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”
That familiar phrase has hit too close to homes in recent days as tens of thousands of residents of West Virginia and northeastern Kentucky learned first hand of what life is like when a resource most of us take from granted — safe drinking water — suddenly is unavailable. Seldom have people in this region felt so vulnerable.
The most serious of the problems were in neighboring West Virginia where a chemical spill in the Elk River made the water unsafe to drink or even bathe or wash clothes for more than 300,000 residents.
Without water, communities in West Virginia essentially shut down. Restaurants were closed because water is essential for preparing most food items, and even if it could be prepared, there was no water to wash dishwater or flush toilets. There was such a mad rush for bottled water in this area that one large supermarket was answering the telephone by saying, “Hello, no we don’t have any bottled water, sorry.”
But communities on this side of the Big Sandy River also found water in short supply, but instead of a chemical spill, it was because of the warming temperatures after last week’s frigid weather. First, frozen water lines slowed the flow of water and lowered the water pressure to a trickle in hundreds of area homes
Then, as the temperatures warmed, the thawing ice causes scores of leaks water lines. There were so many water line leaks in private homes that at least one plumber responded to a call in his private vehicles, because his employer’s seven vehicles were all on calls.
But the leaks were not just limited to private residences. Far from it. In the city of Greenup, which supplies much of Greenup County with water, there were so many leaks in water lines that the city was forced to shut off service to about 2,000 customers because of a lack of water.
Catlettsburg residents were struggling with low or non-existent water pressure because of leaks. Compounding the problem was the city was have trouble locating at least some of the leaks and issued a plea to area residents who spotted leaks to please call the water department.
Hopefully, by today the most serious problems are behind us. But engineers and employees of water companies need to meet to discuss ways to handle similar problems in the future. Fortunately, the extremely cold weather that this region experienced Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 is rare, but it served a reminder to homeowners to better protect their water lines from the cold.
As for the chemical spill in West Virginia, well, that should have never happened. Those responsible for it must be held accountable for the extreme hardships the spill caused. The spill cost businesses and individuals throughout the region millions of dollars.
While all the water problems caused water companies from Greenup, Flatwoods and Catlettsburg and throughout West Virginia to receive more than their share of angry calls, from our vantage point, scores of water company employees and plumbers worked many, many hours without rest trying to repair the leaks and restore water to customers. While the extent of the problems may have been a bit more than they could handle as quickly as we wished, we commend them for their efforts. Without their skills and dedication, the problems would have been much, much worse.
Sure, most will receive hefty paychecks for their hours of overtime, but they deserve it.
Last few days have remined us of how vulnerable we are
“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”
We offer a somewhat belated congratulations to Derek Hazlett, a welding instructor at the Carter County Career and Technical Center, for being one of only two recipients of the 2013 Carl J. Schaefer Memorial Award that honors career and technical education teachers.
Heroin is here
Just a few years ago, few could have ever imagined hosting two public forums on heroin use in Bracken County, the mostly rural county located along the Ohio River between Mason and Campbell counties. After all, at the time heroin was a drug problem in major cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles but not in peaceful small towns like Brooksville and Augusta.
Efforts to contain white-nose syndrome have so far failed
Efforts by officials at Carter Caves State Resort Park to prevent white-nose syndrome from spreading among bats have so far failed. The same is true further west at Mammoth Cave, the world’s largest cave system and the only national park in Kentucky.
After ignoring previous efforts by the Kentucky House of Representatives to place a constitutional amendment automatically restoring the voting rights of most felons, a Kentucky Senate committee has finally approved a bill that, if approved by the full Senate, could lead to the amendment being placed on the November ballo
A record year
In what may surprise a lot of Kentuckians, the commonwealth set a new record for exports in 2013 with $25.3 billion in sales of Kentucky-made products and services. But it is no surprise to Gov. Steve Beshear and economic development leaders. After all, last year marked the third consecutive year the state has set new records in exports.
When a violent storm occurs in Kentucky, a state park may be one of the safest places you can be. That’s because Kentucky is the first state in the nation to have all of its 34 state parks with overnight accommodations designated as “StormReady” by the National Weather.
You can now once again drive from Kentucky to any of its seven bordering states — Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virgina, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri — without leaving the Bluegrass state
Pieces of history
Here’s something to add to your brick collection: one or two bricks from Putnam Stadium. And you can get them at no charge by simply stopping by the open area between the stadium and Joel Street known as the dust bowl.
The right move
Faced with the possibility of Republicans being blamed for another government shutdown, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell chose responsible government over a move advocated by Tea Party Republicans led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. In so doing, the Kentucky Republican who is being challenged by Louisville businessman Matt Bevin in the May primary in his bid to be elected to a sixth six-year Senate term may have lost some support among Tea Party
State Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson, has been sharply criticized by Republican leaders in the Kentucky House of Representatives for having the audacity to break from the official party line by voting for the bill sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.
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