TOMPKINSVILLE — An announcement regarding more than $2.3 million in funding for sewer improvements was made Friday afternoon during a small gathering at the Monroe County Economic Development Center in Tompkinsville.
The money will be used to upgrade the city's wastewater treatment plant, which is nearly 30 years old. The money will also foot the installation of a sewer line to Joe Harrison Carter Elementary School along Edmonton Road to eliminate the school's need to operate a small wastewater package plant independently and the replacement of clay sewer lines.
Sandy Dunahoo, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Local Government, said the problems with the wastewater treatment plant have been ongoing for a number of years.
“This project has somewhat been a long-time coming, although very needed,” she said.
Dunahoo explained that a wastewater treatment plant is expensive to operate, and when one has been in use for as long as the one Tompkinsville is operating, the cost increases.
“The electric bill alone on the wastewater treatment plant as it is right now is $8,500,” she said.
She described the funding package for the sewer project as being “fairly significant.”
Dunahoo also talked about the small wastewater package plant at the elementary school that the school system has been operating independently.
“It is costly to the community. It is costly to the school board and often times small package plants actually just don't work that well,” she said. “Many of them are failing or are near failing, or have issues that cause the Kentucky Division of Water to have to come out there and have a visit with the school board.”
Dunahoo continued that if there are alternatives available to hook the school's small wastewater package plant to a municipal wastewater treatment system it would be better for everyone.
“The other thing that is happening is the city has an older wastewater collection system,” she said. “... The bottom line is when you have a significant amount of rainfall that water seeps into through the pipes that are in the ground and it makes its way into the wastewater collection system and it goes to the wastewater treatment plant where it's very expensive to treat because you're using chemicals, electric and energy to treat this wastewater which should not be in your wastewater collection system.”
The added wastewater increases the load at the wastewater treatment plant, which results in more expense to operate it, she said.
“This project will actually take into account that situation and replace some of that clay line that was probably constructed at the time the wastewater treatment plant was constructed,” Dunahoo said. “Most of it is probably that old and it is certainly does not last for an extended period of time.”
The wastewater treatment plant itself will receive an upgrade, making it more efficient to operate, she said.
The funding package for the sewer improvements includes a low interest loan in the amount of $861,148, a grant from the Appalachian Resource Commission in the amount of $500,000, a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $1 million from DLG, $10,000 from the Monroe County School System and $3,000 from tap on fees from residents living along Edmonton Road who presently do not have sewer service.
Dunahoo also explained that the money for the sewer project actually belongs to the taxpayers of the community.
“We are not coming down here to give you something. These are your dollars. You pay taxes. You earn those dollars. You send those dollars off to the federal government, to the state government and a portion of those are coming back to you because you were able to put together a good, solid project application for something that is going to make a significant improvement in your community,” she said.
Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, said he knew a lot of hard work went into the project.
“Things like this don't happen overnight,” he said. “I just want to say congratulations to all the folks who worked on this.”
Also on hand for the announcement were Tompkinsville Mayor Scotty Turner and Monroe County Judge-Executive Mitchell Page, who said: “I think this will be real good for our school system because Joe Harrison Carter always had a big problem with its sewer system and I think at the present time, I think they are spending $29,000 a year.
“I think this will eliminate that problem.”
Turner said the project will help the city's sewer system.
“We've got a lot of clay lines still in the ground. We are going to replace a lot of those,” he said.
Both also said they thought the sewer system improvements would help when trying to attract business and industry to the community.
Also in attendance for the announcement was Lewis Carter, chairman of the Tompkinsville-Monroe County Industrial Authority, who said the authority has some leads on prospective business and industry.
“If they work out that will be great. If they don't, we'll just keep searching until we do find one,” he said. “But we want to make everything inviting when they come and have everything that they want prepared and ready. Hopefully, the city can show their best side and the county can show their best side they come in.”