By: CHARLOTTE SANDERS Senior Writer
August 23, 2012
Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, Ky. - The people of Belfry do not have a public sewer system, and their representative on Pike County Fiscal Court says he is ready to pursue legal action to jump start that project.
District Six Magistrate Chris Harris said the project is long overdue, and places the blame on Mountain Water Disctrict.
“The basis for our complaint will be that citizens of the Belfry and Pond Creek area are being denied service due to the incompetence or negligence of the Mountain Water District Board,” Harris said “The Board’s failure to proceed with a project that has been funded for well over five years is causing many of the citizens of the service area to go without wastewater service.”
Harris said some residents of the Belfry area have had spend money on their current systems.
“People at Belfry have to unnecessarily spend money to repair and replace existing septic systems that may have fallen into disrepair,” he said.
Mountain Water District owned a wastewater treatment plant at the Mossy Bottom Business Park in Coal Run. In July 2006, the City of Pikeville entered into an agreement to purchase parts of that plant to expand its sewage services.
Under the terms of the contract, Pikeville purchased the system, with the exception of the wastewater treatment plant.
The agreement that was approved by the PSC stated the transfer would “permit Mountain Water District to relocate its Mossy Bottom Treatment Plant to another area that does not currently have sewage treatment facilities and thus avoid the expense of purchasing a new sewage treatment plant.”
The area without service was Belfry. However, that plant was never used and was subsequently sold for scrap.
There has been money set aside from coal severance funds for the Belfry sewage system, Harris said, yet they project has not been started.
“Since seven years ago, we have had millions of dollars allocated to build this plant,” Harris said. “And still the first gravel has not been turned on it.”
Roy Sawyers, District Administrator with Mountain Water District. He said the District is taking the first steps toward providing people in the Belfry area sewage.
“Our legal counsel is in the process of negotiating for a site to locate the plant,” Sawyers said.
He said the land MWD is considering is at Peg’s Branch, behind Belfry Middle School.
The MWD has $2.85 million set aside for the project, with $308,000 to be allotted in the next two years.
Sawyers said MWD estimates spending $250,000 to obtain a sign, and the rest of the money used for administration. design and construction of the plant itself.
“We don’t have the money to install the plant we would like build,” Sawyers said. “We originally asked for $6.9 million to service 300 to 500 customers. With the funding we currently have in place we will be able to service about 50 customers.Then we could upgrade the plant as funding becomes available.”
Sawyers said that, once a site is acquired, the project should be finished within a year.
But Magistrate said that if action is not taken quickly, he will move forward with his complaint.
“If there is money allocated and they are not providing the service, we have a legitimate complaint. If we can’t do something about this, and MWD continues to refuse to do something about this, I’m going to get a group of people from my area and we are going to file a complaint with the Public Service Commission.”
Harris said he has began setting the groundwork for a formal complaint.
“Several entire families have already volunteered to be plaintiffs and I have spoken with the Public Service Commission about the process and procedure involved,” he said. “The basis for our complaint will be that citizens of the Belfry and Pond Creek area are being denied service due to the incompetence or negligence of the Mountain Water District Board. Its been way too long, they have been way too patient, and its ridiculous that Belfry doesn’t have a sewer plant.”