By Leeann Akers - Editor
Jan. 30, 2013 — Water was restored Friday to more than 400 Iron Hill area residents who had been without service for a week.
The outage brought to light several questions about which governmental body, if any, would be responsible for future issues.
The service outage occurred on Friday, Jan. 18. It was caused by debris jamming under a bridge near Iron Hill and causing a line buried under Tygart’s Creek to separate, according to Grayson Utilities Supt. Gerald Haney.
Workers repaired the line the following morning but by afternoon it had broken again, Haney said.
Another repair was done on Sunday, but the line gave way yet again as the logjam continued to play havoc, Haney added.
A total of 443 customers were affected by the outage. Haney personally delivered bottled water to some residents who were unable to make the trip into town.
Larry Dixon, regional response manager for Kentucky Emergency Management, said a “state of emergency” declaration is a judgment call by local officials.
“Both the county judge-executive and the state have the right to declare an emergency,” Dixon told the Journal-Times. “But that should happen only if the local ability to manage the situation has been exceeded. I don't think anything could have been added to the situation in addition to what the water company already was doing.”
Carter County Emergency Management Director Tommy Thompson said in the event of a declared emergency, the county is always prepared.
“We do have a contingency plan, but only in the event of a declared disaster can those plans can go into effect,” Thompson said. “We all have to deal with these situations when they happen. Big cities can use an alternative water route in these events but we are a rural area that doesn't have the means.”
Thompson said downed trees next to the river bank, as well as illegally dumped garbage, create logjams and high water. As far as declaring an emergency, Thompson calls the process “a lot of red tape.”
The Kentucky Department of Transportation says they are responsible for maintaining roads and bridges. Issues, like logjams, that threaten structures are addressed by the DOT when necessary.
The Kentucky Division of Water say that logjam removal is not their responsibility.
According to the Division of Water, “There is no established program in Kentucky at the state, county or city level to take care of this problem unless a state of disaster has been declared, in which case federal aid becomes available.”
The Division of Water also recommends a regular program for stream maintenance and obstruction removal be in place to avoid the need for large, expensive channel restoration projects.
No such program apparently exists in Carter or neighboring counties.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 474-5101.