Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 20, 2014

Catlettsburg water woes continue

Workers struggle to keep tank full

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — Despite workers’ best efforts to resolve them, the city of Catlettsburg is continuing to experience severe water woes.

Keeping the Catlettsburg water tank full has been an ongoing struggle, and officials have been unable to figure out what keeps draining it, said Ryan Eastwood, director of engineering and utilities for the city of Ashland, which supplies the Gate City with water.

According to Eastwood, something happened about the time the Polar Vortex plunged the region into a deep freeze that caused the level in the 21-foot Catlettsburg tank to drop precipitously.

“At first, we thought it was just because of breaks in the system,” he said, but fixing those failed to alleviate the problem.

Several nights ago, Eastwood said, workers hooked a fire pumper truck into the system through a fire hydrant in an effort to fill the tank. It worked, he said, but “it was sucking so hard on the line that it was putting some people on Ky. 168 out of water,” he said.

However, with the tank level continuing to drop, Eastwood said it was likely the fire truck would have to be employed again today, meaning some residents could experience periods of low or no water pressure.

The city also is drawing water from Kenova to help supply Catlettsburg customers, Eastwood said.

Eastwood said he thought the problem might stem from issues with the pump station on Barbecue Road, “but it seems like every time we fix one thing, something else goes wrong. It’s been a juggling act, and our crews are just run ragged.”

Some crew members have been working for as long as 16 hours at a stretch, he said. By law, they have to be sent home after working that long, but many have volunteered to come back to work after resting for only four hours or so, Eastwood said.

Complicating matters, Eastwood said, is the fact that “it’s hard for us to produce water at this time of year because there’s so much dissolved oxygen in the atmosphere,” which get caught in the filters at the water treatment plant.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.