Wednesday, April 16, 2014

City searches for sewer solutions
Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky. — Turning businesses and newcomers away: that's the last thing any city wants to do but a local mayor said he may have to. It's all because of an outdated and dilapidated sewer system.

The mayor of Grand Rivers, Kentucky, said the sewer treatment plant is 50 years old, doesn't meet environmental requirements and has to be replaced.

Federal grant and loan money is there to help pay for the $5 million project but there's a big problem.

Mayor Tom Moodie said regulators from the division of Water and Fish and Wildlife aren't letting the project move forward until more studies on the environmental impact are done. The problem is the small city of Grand Rivers doesn't have the hundreds of thousands of dollars required to do that.

"Most of it's crap, just to put it bluntly," Moodie said.

That's the problem. There's too much of it and the outdated sewer system is falling apart.

Moodie showed Local 6 where the paint is chipping and the rim is rusting. He said the plant not only looks as bad as the stuff it processes, but it's also simply too small for the growing area.

"We are already over capacity," Moodie said.

The mayor said one of the most troubling things is that several times every year, the plant fails and has to be shut down, forcing them to re-route raw sewage right into the river.

"You can be bypassing raw sewage for two days with the plant we've proposed. You'd never have to do that," Moodie said.

The new plant would sit on farmland less than a mile from the old plant. But Moodie says regulators are concerned about mussels and archeology, and want hundreds of thousands of dollars in impact studies.

"We don't have that kind of money in the bank," Moodie said.

He said the city also doesn't have the time to wait.

The sewer system serves about 800 customers in and around Grand Rivers.

The archaeological concerns are in part because archaeologists found a couple of arrowheads on that proposed new site. The mayor said after that discovery, the federal government asked for more studies.

The mayor said they've been upgrading the old site for years but it's a huge waste of money because as soon as they fix one thing, something else breaks. That's not to mention that the entire system is simply too small.

Moodie asked U.S. Senator Rand Paul for help Monday. Paul told Local 6 he believes the occasional dumping of raw sewage into the river is more serious than the mussels on the proposed new site. He said he's willing to help and will contact regulators.