Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 1, 2013

Park may drop Olive Hill water service

Joe Lewis

OLIVE HILL — The Kentucky Department of Parks recently informed Olive Hill City Council it is considering a change in its water provider to save money.

According to Carter Caves State Resort Park Manager Chris Perry, executives in Frankfort are exploring any and all options to cut costs because of an extremely tight state budget.

At the most recent city council meeting, Perry told council members Rattlesnake Ridge Water District has offered to provide water service to Carter Caves should the park decide to switch.

“Rattlesnake Ridge has offered us flat rate pricing for water services, which could save the park a lot of money,” Perry said.

“According to the figures they’ve run in Frankfort, we would save enough money to pay for the cost of running a new main line into the park within three years,” he added.

The current rate schedule for Olive Hill water customers is dependent on the number of gallons used each month, which is why the state is exploring the switch.

Carter Caves uses about 90,000 gallons of water every day, making it the city’s largest consumer.

According to Mayor Kenny Fankell, however, about 40,000 gallons of that total is actually lost water through leakage.

Perry acknowledged water loss at the park has been an issue, but also stated considerable time and expense have been incurred to find the potential line leaks.

“We’ve worked with the city to try to resolve all of the leak issues. We’ve taken care of all the ones we could find, but we’re still not seeing any change on our water bill,” Perry said.

Olive Hill is unable to offer flat rate pricing like Rattlesnake Ridge because the city is under an agreed order to perform mandatory water system improvements.

This means any change to the current water rate ordinance would need to be approved by the Kentucky Division of Water, because repayment of loan funds given to the city to finance the improvements were based on projected revenues from current water rates.

City Attorney George Hogg also advised Perry and the council that other potential legal hurdles may prevent the park from switching water services.

He said there is a noncompete agreement between the Olive Hill and Rattlesnake Ridge water districts.

According to Hogg, this means Rattlesnake Ridge would be legally unable to poach current Olive Hill water customers.

The council agreed to explore options to help the park pay for professional services designed to track down water leaks, but no further action was taken.

No timetable was given as to when the park might look to switch water providers.