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Local nonprofits partner with Marion to relieve pressure of water emergency


A local non-profit is partnering with a Louisville-based disaster relief organization to provide clean water to the people of Crittenden County amid an ongoing water shortage in the county seat of Marion.

Marion residents are having to deal with a lack of accessible clean water after a levee failure caused the loss of their primary water source, prompting Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to declare the water shortage a state of emergency. The Paducah-based nonprofit Kentucky Dream Center is working with WaterStep to provide clean water for the city’s critical facilities and residents.

Kentucky Dream Center is a community outreach organization based in Paducah that coordinates with partner organizations to provide resources to communities in times of crisis. Kentucky Dream Center has most recently played a role in providing support to western Kentucky communities impacted by last year’s tornado outbreak .

Kentucky Dream Center Executive Director Christina Garrot said connecting Marion with WaterStep – an organization that has traditionally focused on building clean water projects in developing countries – is a blessing and a great step forward for helping the community.

”It's just an incredible thing to see that connection. That we're so connected as a community, and we don't even realize it sometimes until things like this happen,” Garrot said.

Garrot said Waterstep is set to bring what they call “WOW Carts” to critical facilities in Marion, including the Crittenden Community Hospital and local assisted living facilities. The carts are holding tanks that can be integrated into the plumbing system of a building and circulate used water to purify on site. Garrot said this is just the first line of defense being provided, and there are more plans for bringing clean water to Marion residents.

“Also, we will be using a laundry and shower trailer as well, so that people in the community can come, they can wash their clothes, and they can have a shower. And, that helps them conserve the water that they do have at their home.” Garrot said.

Garrot said multiple organizations have cooperated with city leaders with help from state and federal government officials, including the office of U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

Marion city officials are still stressing the importance of water conservation. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in a press release Wednesday said the city is estimated to have roughly a ten day supply of water.

“The city itself has taken steps to reduce our water footprint on a daily basis. And we can't stress enough to encourage our residents, our users during the day that come into town: be cognizant of how you use public water service,” said Marion city administrator Adam Ledford in an interview with WKMS. “We'd ask you to limit that use to essential purposes.”

While Marion residents attempt to lower their water usage to stretch out the water supply, the city is looking into multiple avenues of how to combat the water crisis through both short and long-term solutions. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet outlined ideas being implemented and considered in the press release:

Plans for Combating Water Shortage

  • The Kentucky National Guard is delivering tens of thousands of gallons of raw water to Old Lake City for treatment.
  • There’s an increase in the interconnection of water flow to the Marion plant from the Crittenden-Livingston Water District. With conservation efforts by Marion residents, Critteden-Livingston now provides 15% of the city’s water. 
  • City-approved engineers are moving forward with testing and designing an interconnection between the Caldwell Water District and the city.
  • Engineers are completing an analysis of physical features of  the Lake George basin for potential plans to use the lower bowl of the basin for operations in a safe manner.
  • The use of the Lucile Mine in Crittenden County as a water source has been preliminarily approved. The city plans to look further into the aquifer’s recharge rate, methods of water treatment, and eventually a controlled flush of the mine water.
  • Bottled water will continue to be available for residential use. 

Ledford said while there are plenty of plans in place, none of them are without their own problems and solutions will need to be found to overcome those obstacles.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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