Lovelaceville Water District Owner Testifies on Plant Closure
Ballard County's smallest water district is closer to shutting down and leaving its 40 rural customers without service.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission held a public hearing yesterday in Frankfort where members of the commission heard testimony from Lovelaceville's owner Eric Young.
Young requested to file for abandonment in May claiming he’s no longer financially able to run the plant.
"The process is called abandonment," said Young. "In other words, I have to abandon my privately-owned utility before it can be turned into just a public utility. I don't know if that's going to happen, that would take the county fiscal court adopting a resolution to form a water district, but I don't think they're interested in doing that. So, other than private wells, I don't think there's much option left."
Young took over control of the plant in 2010 after working a number of years under the previous owner. He says privately-owned utilities aren’t eligible for grants like public water districts which leaves him unable to afford required water quality tests or the $150,000 of much needed repairs.
“It’s very expensive to run a water district and I know that there is no way to get a grant to make upgrades," said Young. "The distribution system is old and degraded to the point that every repair actually will end up causing another leak. When you repair one spot, it puts pressure on another weak spot and ruptures it, kinda like a domino effect. It's too much for one person to get caught up."
Young says he’s been unable to find a larger water district to absorb or buy out the company and so he has no other option but to relinquish control.
PSC Spokesman Andrew Melnykovych conducted a public information meeting in Lovelaceville on Tuesday. He says one of the customers' concerns was finding an alternative water source.
"There were a number of people that indicated that the cost of drilling a well would be difficult for them to meet," said Melnykovych. "There was some questions about potential government subsidies but we don't have any information on that. We suggested that people contact their county health department and area development district."
Melynykovych says the commission is now deliberating its ruling.
“I don’t think there’s any question that it’s going to be hardship for some people," said Melnykovych. "The commission is certainly cognizant of the fact that Mr. Young says he’s not going to be able to sustain the company for much longer and that the folks in Lovelaceville are going to be impacted by this in some fairly significant way.”
Melnykovych says customers have other options, including wells or a tank system but adds that can be expensive. He says about 20% of Lovelaceville’s customers have already dug their own wells and moved off of the system.