Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 1, 2014

Lining up for water

City manager: Positive developments in water crisis

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — While cautioning there was still a long way to go before the city’s water crisis could be considered over, City Manager Ben Bitter on Friday said there were positive developments to report.

In one of his two daily media briefings on the situation, Bitter said city workers had managed to restore service to about 500 customers on the Ashland system and progress was being made on getting the other 3,500 or so still without water back online.

Bitter also said the Skyline Drive water storage tank, which had been refilling at a rate of only 7 pounds per square inch, was now refilling at 60 PSI thanks in part to “a work-around” that involves using a fire truck to draw water from another tank via a fire hydrant on Boy Scout Road and pumping it into the Skyline tank.

The downside of that, Bitter said, is that it necessitated the closure of Boy Scout Road between Greenbriar Road and Azalea Drive.

The road has been barricaded at the work site and could be closed for three to five days, according to the Kentucky Department of Highways. Until it is reopened, motorists should detour using Ky. 168 and U.S. 60, local routes, or in the following manner:

For access along Boy Scout Road up to the Greenbriar Road intersection, reroute from the Ky. 168 side.

For access along Boy Scout Road up to Azalea Drive, reroute from the U.S. 60 side.

Those who have water remain under a systemwide boil-water advisory, and Bitter said there was no way of knowing when that will be lifted. However, he did say it would likely take several days for the system to be pressurized adequately enough to allow that.

For those who don’t want to go through the trouble of boiling water, potable water is available at the Ashland Water Plant at 4040 Winchester Ave. Residents are welcome to bring containers and fill and refill them as often as necessary, Bitter said.

Also, the city is continuing to distribute bottled water at Central Park and Ashland Community and Technical College. As of Friday, Bitter said the city had given out an estimated 250,000 bottles of water.

Bitter said city officials were still urging those who have water service to conserve as much as possible. That will allow the tanks to refill quicker and enable the city to restore service to those with low pressure and no pressure, he said.

Bitter said the city had received numerous reports of car washes operating and people washing  cars during the water crisis. While saying he didn’t believe that was the wisest use of water and that it definitely wasn’t in keeping with the conservation request, he also said he doubted the city would take legal action to force the car wash owners to shut down until the situation passes.

“We have talked to our legal department about our options, but our preference would be to let the business owners run their businesses,” he said.

The city of Russell also is under a water-conservation notice, issued Thursday by Mayor Bill Hopkins. According to Hopkins, the city’s water supplies have dropped to “dangerously low levels, and we must conserve water to rebuild inventories.”

The Greenup water district on Friday set up bottled water distribution to its customers with no water. Water may be picked up at the Greenup Fire Department, and Greenup Mayor Lundie Meadows said customers need to provide water bill stubs to receive water. Also, each household will be limited to two cases of water, he said.

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