Residents in South Perry waiting for clean drinking water will have to wait until the new state budget is passed.
Perry County Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble said the South Perry Water Project has been put on hold until the new budget is set.
“We are waiting on the new governor and lieutenant governor to get set and for the coal severance money to get distributed again,” Noble said.
The project, which involves putting a water filtration plant in Leatherwood that would filter water and pump it into a tank on top of the hill that would supply Maces Creek, Viper and the Leatherwood areas with 2 million gallons of clean, potable drinking water a day, was supposed to be partially funded by the Department of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML), but they dropped their funding because officials with AML didn’t think the water supply was steady enough due to the drilling of gas wells in the area.
Noble says they are going to contact AML again after the start of the new year. The AML was originally supposed to put up 43 percent of the $4 million needed to build the plant.
“It’s something we’re not quitting on,” Noble said. “We’re going to keep working to get water for everybody up there. The new lieutenant governor will help us with that.”
Twelve-inch lines have been laid to Leatherwood Elementary School for the plant with an additional mile of lines being needed to actually reach the plant, he said. Another $8 million is needed to finish the project, which is expected to cost $13 million. Noble said that the water lines had to be rerouted due to the road project and a line had to be run back down Route 7 to supply Maces Creek.
“With the cooperation of AML, land owners, and coal severance funding to the project, it will be finished in the next two years,” Noble said. “If everything goes good in the session and they pass the budget, by June we should know what we’re getting and what we’re not.”
The Kentucky General Assembly’s regular session will begin on January 8.
Noble believes that the coal severance money needs to go into water projects, which is why he says that he is going to ask the new representative and Governor Beshear to do that.
“We’re working every day putting water in South Perry and finishing up Districts 1 and 2 because there are some places there that we didn’t get,” Noble said.
Residents on Slick Ford Road in Viper say they can’t wait two years for the South Perry Project to be finished because they need clean water now.
“I’ve got water, but me and my daughter both can’t take a bath because it turns muddy,” Slick Ford Road resident, Imogene Slickman said.
She went on to say that at least 30 people on the hill at Slick Ford Road don’t have municipal water.
“That would be a lifetime dream to have water from a municipal source come up the hill. I keep praying for it to happen, but I don’t see it,” she said. “We were promised it about three or four years ago and we haven’t gotten it yet. You can’t live and raise a family if you don’t have the water.”
Slickman and many other residents on the road have to carry their water from other places because their water becomes muddy and unusable after a short period of time. One resident said that they can flush their toilet and wash a load of clothes and that is all the water they have for the day.
Yvonne Hurt, who also lives on Slick Ford Road, said that she has to go to her daughter’s house to wash clothes.
“I had to take my washer to my daughter’s and I’m doing laundry at her house because I don’t have any water here to do laundry. I buy my drinking water and get some at my daughter’s house. It’s a hassle that just doesn’t have to be,” Hurt said.
Slickman, who is on a fixed income, says that she buys her drinking water, which becomes expensive.
Slick Ford Road residents say that something is going to have to happen soon or they are going to have to move.
Hurt said, “Something has to give or we are going to have to sell everything we have and just go or just leave it. Where we go from there I don’t know. Either we get water soon, or I am going to have to move somewhere else.”
“I’m on a fixed income and I can’t afford to rent a place,” Slickman said. “I worked all my life to get property for my kids so they wouldn’t be run off of somebody else’s property. Well I did it. I got the land, but if you don’t have the water it ain’t worth nothing. This would be a good place to live if you had the water.”
The water lines came to the residents at the bottom of Slick Ford Road, but were not extended up to those at the top of the hill, Slickman and Hurt said.
“We’re tax paying citizens just like everybody else, and it shouldn’t be right for half the people on a mountain to get water and just let the rest of us go like we’re not even human beings. I thought our country was a little better than that,” Hurt said.
Noble said that it would take five pump stations to put water to the top of Slick Ford Road. “We have to run water to the most people in the biggest areas first. As we go we’ll get Slick Ford. We’re trying to serve the most amount of houses that’s out of water with the volume of money we have first.”
Slickman, who has lived on Slick Ford Road since 2003, said that she offered land to the county on which to place a water tankthat would supply the residents on the mountain.
“I told them in a water meeting at Jeff that I would give them the land and deed it to them if they had to have it to put a tank on or whatever they needed it for,” she said. “If I could win the lottery, which you have to play it to win it, I would put it [water] in myself for all of us. If you ain’t got water, you ain’t got nothing.”
Noble isn’t sure when all the residents on Slick Ford Road will get water because it depends on funding, he said.