City restores water service to Perry County

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter aholliday@civitasmedia.com

January 21, 2014

HAZARD—Citizens in Perry County now have water service returned after subzero temperatures and line breaks left many without for over a week—but with single-digit temperatures in the near future, problems may arise again.

“Water was restored to all customers of the City of Hazard water system on Saturday, Jan. 18, around 2 p.m.,” a press release from the City of Hazard read on Monday. “At this time the situation is a lot better than it was last week, however it is not completely back to normal.”

Customers should continue to conserve water, the press release reads, and not run faucets at night at full stream or at all when temperatures are above freezing.

“We are also asking that everyone please check any vacant homes near them that still have water connected for possible water leaks. During the recent water shortage we have discovered many such houses that had broken pipes and water was leaking in huge amounts,” the press release reads.

A boil water advisory, which was issued on Jan. 10, has been lifted system wide as of Tuesday afternoon.

If anyone sees or knows of any leaks or broken pipes anywhere in the community they should contact Hazard Maintenance at 439-1863 or the Hazard Water Plant at 436-2033.

Water outages affect thousands of customers

The last community to have water restored in Perry County—where over 3,000 customers had lost water service in the last week—was also the last community to expect to lose water service to begin with.

“They weren’t even supposed to cut it off in the first place,” Ary resident Mary Holliday said last week. “I called Friday, and they said we are not cutting off Ary and Ball Creek or Rowdy, this area, no, and then they did. Nobody was prepared.”

Holliday, along with the other 175 customers that live in the Ary and Ball Creek area, lost water Jan. 12, and did not have it restored until this past weekend. Needless to say, many customers were frustrated with the situation.

“We just really, really wasn’t getting any answers, no answers. I mean, they would tell us one thing, do another,” Holliday said. “It’s really put us in a real bad position. Of course you know you can’t do your laundry, you sponge bath, and you heat your water up to wash your hair and things.”

Officials with Perry County Emergency Management supplied local fire departments in the area with bottled water to hand out to residents in need. As of Friday, the number of cases of water given out was just over 3,500 cases—including those given out at the Lost Creek and Homeplace fire departments.

Hazard Fire Chief Sam Stacy, who has spearheaded the work to try to resolve the recent water issues, said the Ary community did not have water because of an undiscovered leak somewhere in the community.

“A day or so ago, we tried to cut them back on, and as soon as we did we lost about two-thirds of the tank. I think they had water for like two or three hours, but we lost a huge amount out of our tank and we had to go back and cut it back off because we couldn’t find the leak at the time,” Stacy said on Friday.

It was imperative to find the leak, Stacy explained, and not let the storage tank for Ary run dry because that would cause the tank for the ARH Hospital to deplete.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on, but our plan today is to cut the main line back on down through there and try to fill it up and see if we have any leaks,” Stacy said.

The process to find the leak would be the same that it has been in every other part of the county that has lost water service this week, Stacy explained; turning water on one line at a time to see if an abnormal amount of water is used to indicate a leak.

Stacy said one of the biggest issues workers have faced with finding line breaks is that they tend to be at vacant places.

“There were several leaks at the houses that were rental properties that weren’t being rented at the moment and nobody had been there to check on them,” he said. “I think the smallest leak was like 39,000 gallons and the largest was up in the hundreds of thousands of gallons.”

Stacy said that everyone in the county needs to remain vigilant in looking for leaks in waterlines in their communities.

“Everybody’s working on it around the clock, trying to get this situation resolved, and we’ve made a really big dent in it so far, but we’re not going to quit until we get every last customer’s back on,” Stacy said. “We wish we could have got it back on the next day, but it’s just a slow process and you’ve got to do it methodically and one place at a time in order to check the entire system.”

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.