BUCKHORN — Since July 30, customers of the Buckhorn water system have endured boil water advisories four separate times due to main waterline breaks.
The culprit? According to Buckhorn Mayor Veda Wooton, crews with the state highway department ruptured the lines while cleaning ditches in the area, resulting in 18 total days of customers being advised to boil their water before cooking with or consuming it.
For the City of Buckhorn, not only have the breaks caused issues with their customers, but they’re also costing money.
“I know it’s cost us a lot of money. It costs over $100 to get the water tested each time,” noted City Clerk Joy Stamper, adding that this figure doesn’t take into account the money being spent to repair the lines using a crew contracted from the Buckhorn Children’s Center.
There are roughly 300 customers on the Buckhorn system, which gets its water from the City of Hazard’s water treatment plant on East Main Street. There are hundreds more who use the system each day, including guests at the lodge at Buckhorn Lake, students at Buckhorn School and residents at the children’s center.
Mayor Wooton noted that the system’s customers had been understanding during the first three advisories, but after the fourth break the city began receiving calls wondering when the advisories would come to an end.
“We get a break every once in a while from them digging and cleaning out ditch lines and stuff, but not this much,” Mayor Wooton said.
The breaks occurred on Ky. 1833 leading to the lodge and Highway 28, according H.B. Elkins, information officer with the state highway department’s office in Jackson, who said the line buried along Highway 1833 were not buried at the correct depth.
“Our permitting requirements are that any water lines buried in our ditches on state right-of-way must be buried at least 42 inches deep,” Elkins said. “If the water lines are buried at the proper depth, our maintenance operations such as ditching will not affect them. However, these lines were not buried at the proper depth and thus we cannot be responsible for them.”
Elkins added that the department’s branch manager for Project Delivery and Preservation inspected the break on Highway 1833 and confirmed that it was not buried at the correct depth.
In the meantime, there seems to be little recourse for the city, noted Mayor Wooton, but to hope that it doesn’t happen again.