Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Water District production still up

J-E News Editor
Webster County Water District continues a trend of higher water production, having topped 2013 marks in four of the first five months of 2014.

When asked if this was due to usage or line flushing, District Superintendent Paul Lashbrook told the board, “We hope it’s due to usage, but it’s probably a little bit of both. Water districts everywhere are showing less water usage due to everything you hear about water conservation and the use of low flow toilets. We’re like everybody else.”
The Webster County Water Plant produced 32,219,625 gallons of water in May, up 2,562,025 gallons from May of 2014. That’s the second highest production of the year. The plant put out 32,690,000 gallons in January while they were flushing lines. For the year production is at 156,455,250.
In other business, board members reviewed health insurance options for the upcoming year.
“We had a pretty hefty increase,” said Lashbrook. “Six percent is attributed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
Lashbrook added that in some cases insurance companies were giving employers a break on their premiums, but the district had a substantial claim on one of their policies last year. The increase will amount to about $17,500 in additional costs.
The increase might require the district to make some changes. According to Lashbrook, with 41.7 percent of the year complete, they have already reached 47 percent of the annual budget for benefits. The district’s electric usage for the year is already at 48.27 percent.
“What we’re going to do, if it’s okay with the board, is look at the budget a month or two down the road and see where we are,” Lashbrook said.
The water district will soon be completing a project that will extend water services from Sebree Pratt Road up the city limits of Sebree along Highway 132. The ultimate goal is to install a meter pit and an interconnect with Sebree Water at that point, allowing the transfer and sales of water between Sebree and Webster County Water in the case of a shortage or emergency.
For the moment board members decided to run only a straight line with a fire hydrant at the end, which will keep the cost  down for the moment. The project will still run around $19,800.
Even though this will not connect Sebree with the county water district, officials said it would still benefit Sebree residents. In an emergency situation the county hydrant could be connected to a nearby Sebree hydrant via a fire hose. That could not only provide water in a situation where Sebree’s water was out, it could also allow fire fighters in the Sebree area to keep water pressure up.
Ideas such as this are among those that will be discussed when utility providers from across western Kentucky, including Lashbrook, meet in Paducah on Monday for ‘Capstone 14.”
“I’m sure you haven’t heard of this,” said Lashbrook. “It’s an exercise that tries to decide what is needed if there is another earthquake on the New Madrid fault like there was 200 years ago.”
The New Madrid, MO earthquakes started on December 16, 1811 and continued through February 7, 1812. The were felt strongly  in an area of about 50,000 square miles and moderately across a million square miles. Chimneys were knocked down in Louisville, Kentucky and reports said that church bells rang in the city of Boston, MA. People in cities as distant at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk, Virginia reported being awoken by the shaking.
In 1812 western Kentucky was still only a sparsely populated area. Today that has changed.
“A lot of the infrastructure will be gone,” Lashbrook said, listing roads, bridges, utilities and airports among things that could be rendered unusable. “We’re going to go in and try to see what we could get online if such an emergency happened.”

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